Gestures – Week 2
August 12, 2018
Pastor Ed Young
It’s perhaps the most used and recognized gesture in the world. ✌️ But could it be that this simple hand gesture holds more power and meaning than we often give it? In this message, Pastor Ed Young unpacks peace from God’s point of view and helps us see that there is much more to it than we may know. But when we gain the proper perspective on peace, it becomes something that can transform every area of our lives!
[Ed walks on stage holding up the “Peace!” sign.] There we go, it took awhile. Whenever I flash the peace sign please, show me some love and flash the peace sign back. Peace, peace!
The peace sign has got to be the most common gesture in the world today, the peace sign. I’ve been talking about gestures lately, and I’ve discovered that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Just watch people as they exit all of our locations, as they make their way to the parking lot, watch the gestures they use. Maybe watch the gestures of people on the freeway when you cut them off, the gestures.
You know, we’re all about gestures. We talk so much with gestures. I thought today we would talk about the peace sign, peace.
When I say peace, when I flash the peace sign, what do you think about? What goes through your mind?
ILLUS: As I’ve told you before, my first encounter with the peace sign happened when I was in the second grade at Taylors Elementary School. We were in the cafeteria eating food with about, I don’t know, a hundred or so kids. We were misbehaving, even though the teachers were telling us “Shh, shh!” We were flinging English peas with our spoons at one another, laughing and pulling the girl’s hair, all that stuff. It was sort of mayhem in the cafeteria at Taylors Elementary.
Suddenly though, we heard the screen door, that’s right, there was a screen door that opened a hallway into the cafeteria. Suddenly we heard the screen door open, everyone looked, and to our shock and amazement the most intimidating principal in the history of public education walked through the door. I’m talking about Principal W. A. Woodruff. I wish we would use like initials when we talk about people in today’s culture like we did back in the day. W. A., instead of calling me Ed Young, how about E.B. Young. Edwin Barry, just call me E.B., I like that, old school.
Well W. A. Woodruff man this guy was scary. At least six-four, 300 pounds, had a crew cut gray hair, these big, black horn-rimmed glasses. A scowl on his face like a middle linebacker for the Cowboys. Giant wingtips, and he always sported the short-sleeve dress shirt. Let’s bring back the short-sleeve dress shirt, what do you say? Remember those? He had on a little black tie, and he was just looking at all the kids in the cafeteria misbehaving. A holy hush came over the cafeteria. Word got out, W. A. Woodruff was in the house.
Word on the street was he paddled kids. That’s right, principals would paddle kids who misbehaved back in the day. I know that’s a shocker, some of the kids are going, “What?!” Yeah, it was rumored he used a two-by-four, with nails some of my friends said, I don’t know. He was a scary figure.
So a holy hush hit the cafeteria, I mean we were like, “Whoa! He’s caught us in the midst of our misbehavior!” Everyone was quiet, even the teachers were scared.
There’s always that crazy person in every group. Do you know what I’m saying to you? Even in the second grade, there was this crazy kid in our class and he had enough guts to say to Principal W. A. Woodruff, these words, “Hey Mr. Woodruff, peace, peace!”
Everyone waited, everyone held their breath. What would W. A. Woodruff do? Would he jerk the kid up, take him to his office, and use the two-by-four with nails? What would he do? He caught us in misbehavior. Well W. A. Woodruff smiled and returned the peace sign with a peace sign of his own. And everyone in the cafeteria, all the kids in the cafeteria, “Peace, peace, peace, peace Mr. Woodruff, peace, peace!” Because everyone wanted to have peace with W. A. Woodruff. I mean, you’d have to have been crazy not to want to have peace with him.
Peace. Peace. What is it? You might say, “Oh peace, I know what peace is. Peace is the absence of conflict, it’s the halting of hostilities.”
If you talk to a man or a woman on a battlefield, maybe in Afghanistan, they would say, “Peace? Peace is when the bullets stop flying, that’s peace.”
Talk to a mom who has a couple of preschoolers, she would say, “Peace? You spell it with two words: nap time.”
Maybe you’re in a dating relationship, you would say, “Oh peace is no drama, I can’t handle drama, if there’s no drama I’m having peace.”
We talk about peace so much, and I would argue peace and the peace sign is the most misused and misapplied and misappropriated gesture and word in the world today. We don’t even know what peace is. Peace, what is peace? Where is peace? Go online, just scroll through your Instagram feed or Facebook, where’s the peace? Half of all marriages end in divorce. I have to ask you, where’s the peace? The average American household is $130,000 in debt. Where’s the peace? Peace?
“Well peace is when I’m trout fishing in that Colorado stream. Peace is when I’m on a Sandals vacation. Peace is when I have a spa day, when it’s my day, that’s peace.”
Well yeah, I understand, I would say those are pieces of peace, but not really peace.
We desire peace, do we not? We want peace, we’re made for peace. But I would argue we don’t really have a lot of it. We don’t really understand this gesture. But I’m here to tell you, there’s meaning in our motions. Peace, peace, peace.
Maybe God knows what peace is. You’ve probably thought about that before. Could our loving and transcendent God know what peace is about? Could it be that I’m just involved in circumstantial peace? When I drive the right car, live in the right zip code, have a certain amount of money in the bank, I’m going to experience peace. Could it be that I’m just seeking pieces of peace and I’ve not ever really understood the peace of God, which the Bible tells me is holistic and complete and it transcends all human comprehension? That’s what God tells you and me when He talks to us about peace. So I guess if we’re thinking about peace, I’m just suggesting, maybe peace should start with God.
Jesus walked across the stage of human history and said in John 14:27, now every time you see the word peace, I want you to do the peace sign, okay? “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives.”
So right up front, Jesus is saying, “The kind of peace I’m offering you is no piecemeal peace. It’s not just pieces of peace. It is a peace that is so deep, the space is so massive, the place is so dynamic and static you wouldn’t believe it!”
Do you have peace? Because peace starts and ends with God. We’re not a peaceful people. Study human history. Over the last 3400 years of human history, we’ve only had 268 years of peace. The definition of that peace, one New York Times writer said, is “without war”. He defines war as killing at least 1000 people. So that’s just over the last 3400 years. We’ve never kept a peace treaty. So we’re not peaceful people. To say we’re peaceful people, to say “Oh yeah I’m that John Lennon, give peace a chance, I’m Jay-Z peace, or I’ve seen the peace sign on a T-shirt,” or maybe you say my drawing on Instagram and Facebook yesterday of the peace sign, maybe you’re into that. There’s more to it than that. But a lot of us, that’s where we stop.
Yet God comes along and God says there is a comprehensive peace and it’s the peace of Jesus. He offers us peace, He gives us peace. And the Bible says that Jesus preached peace.
Go back to Eden, I’m talking about the Garden of Eden. We had peace. We decided to do our own thing our own way, we declared war with God. Because the moment you kick God out of the equation, the moment you stop worshiping Him and worshiping self, you’ve declared war. And you’ve signed up for your own program and you think you can find peace away from God. So peace was in effect, man declared war.
What did God do? All humanity held its breath. I mean, there was a holy hush, kind of like in Taylors Elementary cafeteria when W. A. Woodruff walked in. Well what would He do? What would His response look like? What did God play out?
God set forth a peace mission. Read the Old Testament, read about the prophets. One of their main vibes was that of peace, I mean they were laying down peace. And basically, they said, “Are you picking up what we’re laying down? Are you getting it? Do you understand peace, peace, peace?”
Then the prophet Isaiah said, “There’s going to come along this person, this Messiah, who’s going to be called the Prince of Peace.” A long time before Jesus was ever born, Isaiah said that.
Then, you have in Luke 2, the angels, after Christ was born in Bethlehem, saying and declaring, “Peace is available, peace.” And obviously they were referring to Jesus.
And then Jesus talked about preaching peace.
And then in Romans 5:1, the apostle Paul says when we’re reconciled to God by Christ, by making a faith decision, we experience the peace of God, we have peace with God.
And then in the book of Philippians 4, it says the peace of God will guard your heart and mind.
And on top of that, Galatians 5, where it talks about the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit comes inside of your life and mine and Christ places the Holy Spirit in our lives. He doesn’t have His eye on the clock. He’s not going like, “When can I get out of here?” He’s saying, “I am going to produce peace in your life.” It’s a fruit of the Spirit.
Then in Ephesians 6, it talks about warfare. And the gospel—the death, burial, and resurrection—is called the gospel of peace.
So it’s interesting you have peace in the midst of conflict and war. So peace does not mean there’s no conflict, peace does not mean there’s a halting of hostilities.
Hear that sound? Ch-ch-ch-ch, boom, ahhh, boom! There’s a war going on. There’s a conflict brewing in all of our lives. And the theater of operations is basically about four and a half inches between our ears. It’s in the mind, in the heart, in the souls of who we are.
Peace, do you have peace? I mean seriously, do you have peace? Jesus wants us to have peace, we’re made for peace. It starts when we make peace with God. God has made peace with us. And the Bible says, when we make a faith decision, we can have the peace of God.
Romans 5:1-2, remember our deal, when you see peace, flash the peace sign, alright. “Therefore,” Paul says, “since we’ve been justified through faith…” that means a right standing. When God sees you and me, He sees Jesus and the righteousness of Jesus in our lives. “…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we’ve gained access by faith…” We’re not talking about circumstantial or situational, we’re talking about relational, right. “…we’ve gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
Peace. Here’s a working definition of peace in the original language. This word peace is “Spiritual harmony and wholeness, brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.” That’s peace. Spiritual harmony and wholeness brought about by a faith decision when we’re reconciled to God through Christ.
And then the writer of Scripture says, we can’t understand it, it’s beyond our comprehension. You can’t really understand, nor can I, the love of God. You can’t understand, nor can I, the sovereignty of God, or the freewill of man. We can’t understand it, we’re limited. The Bible tells us, though, the peace of God is in effect. Peace begins with God, peace.
Do you have peace with God? If you have peace with God, you have the peace of God. It comes by opening up the lid of your life and saying, “Jesus, I surrender to you.”
Now we think, “Surrender? Oh man, that’s kind of weak, that’s kind of going soft, that’s kind of playing back on your heels.” No, no, no. When we surrender the totality of who we are to the Prince of Peace, He captures us and dominates us and fills us up with peace in the midst of conflict. Do you have peace with God? And if you have peace with God, It’s going to flow over into another area.
I thought this was interesting. I was reading the definition in Hebrew. Hebrew is the language of the Old Testament. Hebrew, remember, is the language of the verb. The weak verb, not to get too technical, but the verb in the Hebrew is where it’s at. So you’ve heard shalom before. We’re going to Israel in just a couple of months, there’s still opportunities to sign up. You need to go, it’s a life-changing trip. You will hear shalom mentioned a lot, shalom, shalom. Shalom means peace, it means completeness, it means wholeness.
I think it’s interesting to note that before Aaron opened up a can, in the cities of the Promised Land, you know what God said? “Peace!” What? No that’s the upside down kingdom of God, you have peace in the midst of these situations. So we need to understand and comprehend that we should have so much shalom in our life, it should spill over into ourselves and others. That’s how complete and that’s how whole it is.
Let’s talk about peace with ourselves. Are you at peace with yourself? Okay, you got your peace with God. “Alright, I’ve made my peace with God, I’ve received Christ.” Is that it? I mean is that all there is? No, no, no, no because we’re going to find out peace is a byproduct of obedience. The key to the Christian life is a faith decision, then as we live out this, as we do what God tells us to do, we will experience peace.
Here we go Colossians 3:15, I’m going to test you again. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”
This word rule, we get the word, strike, umpire from that. Umpires are hard to understand, but if you’re playing baseball you understand them. Umpire, it means to settle a dispute. I have disputes in my life, so do you. Who’s going to rule, who’s sovereign in your life or in mine? Who’s sovereign, who’s running the show?
We have an amazing group that gets together here at Fellowship Church, who struggle with addictions. And we have a Biblically-based, 12-step program. I think 12 steps are good for everyone. I mean we all have issues, but that’s a whole other message. So we have 12 steps, and 12 steps are in the Bible. Some of us here struggle with addictions, substance abuse, maybe you feel a war, a battle going on because you know you’re just one drink away from, if you take one drink, you know where it leads. One hit, one pill, there’s a battle going on, a conflict. Who’s sovereign in your life? Who’s ruling in your life?
Think about the passions that God’s given us. Think about lust. Lust is a God-given desire that’s gone haywire. You’re online, are you going to linger on that picture? What search engines do you frequent? What websites do you frequent? You have that attractive co-worker and there’s a pull. Do you go by her office, his office, just to small talk? Or do you say, “You know what, I’m going to let the peace of God rule. I’m going to do, God, what you want me to go. I’m going to go the opposite way.” And you will experience this wholeness and tranquility.
See we don’t think that peace happens during conflict, but it’s all about conflict. Think about what Jesus did, the Prince of Peace. The fight, the battle, death, burial, resurrection, only because of that can we even have this conversation.
So, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
There you go, remember this? Here’s the church, here’s the steeple (some of you weren’t here last week) open the doors, see all the people. That’s referring obviously to us individually, but also we’re carriers of the church, people of peace, a wholeness, a harmony, a completeness, a shalom that spills over into all areas.
Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious…” The word anxious means to choke. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer, so that means if I’m talking to God regularly, and petition, if I’m spending time with Him, then what am I doing? I’m thankful, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And what’s going to happen? Here we go verse 7, and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” It’s about football season, guard, it’s about that time, guard, look at the offensive line, protect the quarterback, they’re guarding the quarterback. Look at the footwork, look at this, look at this, look at this, look at the footwork.
These are awesome promises. So shalom, the peace of God, happens when I receive Christ and I’m flowing in the peace. But remember it’s dynamic and static and whole and complete, it’s spilling over into myself. I mean, are you at peace with the way God made you? I’m talking about your look, we all struggle with this. Your laugh, your walk, your talk, where you live. Are you at peace with that?
The Psalmist said, “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Wow when we begin to pray that and live that out, peace, peace. But let’s look at another area, I just mentioned it a second ago. Peace should spill out, and I’m not talking about pieces of peace, I’m talking about a wholeness, a God-driven peace, how about let’s talk about peace with other people.
“Man Ed, I was hoping you weren’t going to talk about that. Peace with others?”
Yep, peace with others. I don’t like everybody and the Bible just tells us that we don’t have to like everybody. We have to love everybody, but we don’t have to like love hanging out with everybody. There are people that I just don’t really like that much, and I’m sure you’re the same, that’s okay. We love them, I love them, because we’ve never locked eyes with someone that Christ did not die for. Think about that person though in your life that you’ve had a beef with, an issue with, a conflict with, a fight with, a war online with.
Romans 12:18, I love this first phrase, “If it is possible…” Don’t you love that? Because some people aren’t going to dig it. “…as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Now this does not mean we’re in denial; it means that we have to do the work of peace, the peace plan and the peace mission that God desires.
The gospel of Mark 9:50, Jesus is exhorting His disciples, “Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Who is that person or persons that you need to talk with, that you need to carry God’s peace to? First of all, initiate the conversation, God took the initiative for peace. Who’s that person? I’m not talking about just your spouse, I know that, I mean someone who’s not your spouse. Initiate that peace plan.
Also, too, I would I think there’s a thing about scripture, empathize with them, put yourself in their shoes when you’re talking to them. How would you like to be approached? You see what I’m saying to you? Now everyone’s not going to dig it. That’s okay.
ILLUS: I remember when I played high school basketball, we used to play against a school called Eau Claire. And Eau Claire had these great cheers, I mean the whole crowd would cheer. And when you would commit a foul, if you were playing against Eau Claire, here’s what the crowd would do, thousands of them, they would go, “The foul’s on you, the foul’s on you, the foul’s on you, you, you, you, you!”
That’s what God’s saying, when it comes to peace, it depends on you, it depends on you, it depends on you, you, you, you, you! Put yourself in their shoes. Empathize, empathize.
Then, concentrate on the person, not just the issue, the fine print, the little words and stuff, just concentrate on the person. Say, “Hey, I was wrong,” maybe they’re 85% wrong, “I was wrong, I messed up, will you forgive me?”
So we make reconciliation peace our aim, not always resolution, peace. Do you have the peace of God? Are you at peace with yourself? Are you at peace with others during this conflict? What’s the secret?
I leave you with these gestures, here’s the secret. One way, do that with me, Jesus said, “I am the way.” Not a way. One way, to the peace we’ve been talking about, through the power of the cross. One way, to the peace, through the power of the cross. One way, to the peace, through the power of the cross.