I’m pretty sure I’ve discussed this before but oh well; when haven’t I repeated myself?
We discussed this a while ago in small group and I’m pretty convinced against the idea that feeling of peace is necessarily an indication of the will of God. Meaning, that if a choice is God’s will you will necessarily feel peace to help guide you towards that choice. Or relatedly, if you feel peace about some option then that’s God’s will for you.
My objection is pretty simple – I just don’t think there’s any Biblical support for this at all. Jesus promises us a general, lasting life peace. And I think it’s good to pray for peace in general, or even in regards to a decision. But just, nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that it’s right to expect peace as a confirmation of His will. And I’m perfectly open to being wrong – just show me the relevant passage.
There’s actually I think much more evidence to the contrary. The prime example being Jesus at Gethsemene. The path that was God’s will for him caused him an incredible amount of anguish. And yet, that was God’s will. Did you see The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ? An interesting but deeply misguided movie. The last temptation they refer to is Jesus not dying on the cross but instead living a happy life with Mary Magdalene, raising kids and all that. Why am I bringing this up? Oh yeah, it’s because there’s a point where he feels hey I can do this instead of dying and he feels this sort of peace about it. Uh, not sure what my point is. I guess just Scripture gives every indication that Jesus following through with God’s will was deeply troubling.
There are other examples. Tons in the Old Testament where God directly addresses people on His will and they feel the opposite of peace. Jonah runs away from it. Moses tries to get out of it and constantly complains about it. There are examples I think where people do feel peace. But the point is, if you look at Scripture, it doesn’t seem like it’s a necessary indication of God’s will.
Someone once mentioned the Gethsemene and Moses examples and said how maybe they didn’t have a warm fuzzy feeling of peace but they did have the peace of knowing they were following God’s will. And then looked at those examples in light of that.
I dunno, this is just my opinion, but I think that’s the worst kind of Biblical interpretation – starting with the conclusion and then showing what must be true of the passage in light of that. I reread the Gethsemene passages and there’s nothing in the text to support that idea, that while he might have been troubled, he felt the peace of knowing he was following God’s will. He does keep saying God’s will be done. But it causes anguish. Like in Luke, it’s after he prays God’s will be done that he gets so anguished that he sweats like blood. No indication from the text that he felt peace of any kind.
The only way to support that idea is if you start with it as a presupposition. But then the reasoning becomes circular. Jesus must have felt peace at Gethsemene, not a feel good peace, but the peace of knowing he was following God’s will. But how do you know that? There’s nothing in the passage to suggest that. Well you know that because when you follow God’s will, you feel some sort of peace about doing that. And how do you know that? Because this idea is in the Bible. And how do you reconcile Gethsemene with this idea? Well, Jesus must have felt peace at Gethsemene, not a feel good peace, but the peace of knowing he was following God’s will.
So yeah, you can only reach the conclusion that Jesus felt peace at Gethsemene if you start with the presupposition that you must feel peace in knowing God’s will. And that’s the worst kind of interpretation, I think – imposing your presuppositions on the passage, instead of drawing conclusions from it. You know the reasoning method is bad because you can draw the exact opposite conclusions in the same way. Start with the presupposition that you never feel peace in following God’s will. You can support this conclusion from these examples using the same type of reasoning.
What does the Gethsemene passage suggest on its own? It says that Jesus wanted that God’s will be done. And it says that it caused him torment, anguish and sorrow.
So anyway, whatever, it’s still just my opinion, but if you ask me, I don’t think you’ll necessarily feel any sort of peace in following God’s will at the time you have to decide. You might. But if the Bible is any indication, sometimes, you’ll feel exactly the opposite. So we need to use something besides a vague notion of peace as a guide. It’s OK to expect peace as a sign. I just don’t think that’s Biblical.