Tony's Reflections from St Paul's: 4 

Have you ever watched the original Dad's Army TV series? Who was your favourite character? Mine was Sergeant Wilson.

Private Fraser frequently reckoned "We are all doomed… doomed, I tell you", Corporal Jones often got in a panic and Captain Mainwaring got in a flap. Sergeant Wilson, though, always rose above all of that. Nothing ever seemed to ruffle his feathers. He was constantly cool, calm and collected no matter what happened.

Sergeant Wilson was one of the most easy-going, peaceful characters you could ever imagine.

There is a famous Bible passage, about Jesus making us peaceful characters, too.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27.)

Jesus has just been telling his best friends, how he was going to be crucified. They were worried and uncertain about how they would cope without him. In the midst of their sorrow and fear, he gives them this amazing promise of peace.

We, too, are living through worrying and uncertain times and wonder how we will cope with what the future might hold. The promise of peace is as precious and relevant to us as it was to Jesus' original friends.

Sergeant Wilson’s peace came from his own natural personality. The peace Jesus is talking about is very different - it doesn't come from within us. It is a gift from him, which he puts into us, so our hearts will not be troubled and we will not be afraid. It is his peace ("my peace I give you").

The chapter begins with Jesus saying, "Do not let your hearts be troubled," and verse 27 ends with that same phrase, "Do not let your hearts be troubled.” What comes in between gives us two precious clues about this peace and why it is special. How it is different from the peace the world gives, which comes from our own personality and inner strength.

When Jesus first encourages his friends "Do not let your hearts be troubled", he says the secret of not being troubled lies in trusting him. (See verses 1-4.) Not just a general trust, but a trust in something very specific - that he has gone on ahead of us, into heaven and has prepared a place there for us. A trust that when we die, he will come back to meet us and take us to that wonderful place.

That is the first secret of the special peace that Jesus gives. It comes from knowing that we are on a path which will lead ultimately and certainly straight into heaven. Your place in heaven has a "reserved" sign with your name on it. He has prepared it for you, so he will make sure you get there to take it up. Your future destiny is certain and promised, so do not be afraid or worried.

"That’s all very well," some may say, "but what about all the stuff I have to take in this life, before I get to the next?!"

When Jesus gave this encouragement to his friends, he knew their life without him was going to be hard. They were going to face fierce persecution. All but one of them would suffer a violent death. They had plenty to worry about …

Jesus didn't just tell them, "I know this life is going to be scary, but just keep thinking about what you have to look forward to in the next." Yes, we do look forward to the next life, but Jesus gives us something to bring us strength and comfort and peace, right in the midst of all the fears and difficulties of this life. That is the second precious clue as to why the peace Jesus brings is so special and different from anything the world can offer.

It is all to do with "the Counsellor" (or “Advocate”) he will send his friends (verse 15f). This Counsellor, he says, "will be in you" (verse 17) and will make Jesus real “in us” (verse 20). He will take what Jesus has said and speak it into our hearts (verse 26).

This Counsellor is the Holy Spirit. If you open your heart to Jesus, he will send the Holy Spirit inside you and the Holy Spirit will make Jesus, his words, his example, his character, including his peace, all come alive, inside you.

Maybe you have already asked Jesus to send the Holy Spirit on you. Perhaps you have never asked. No matter what your personal history is with God, why not ask him to come inside you now? Ask him today to make the certainty of your future in heaven a present reality for you and give you Jesus’ peace as your present strength.