"Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace." Psalm 37:37
I love watching people or is it "people watching"? Whatever... you know what I'm saying. Just yesterday I was having lunch (or a people watching session) with one of my favorite friends when he caught me looking everywhere but at him as he was sharing some of the great things going on in his life (because I handle multiple tasks on a daily basis, I did hear it all just in case you're reading this). I'd love to say the reason for my wandering eyes was that I was watching to see if a masked man was about to rob a bank so that I could be the knight in shining honor to the unsuspecting hostages and bring the victims to Christ with my heroism. But the real reason for my lack of eye contact was that I love to see how people live in their present environment. I love to study their mannerisms, their voices, the way a man treats a woman during a meal and the way people chew their food amongst other things. The irony of that discussion was that we were talking about what it would take for a disciple of Christ to put their foot into the mold that God willingly carves out for us as we walk through life. How could we come to the end of our own life (abandon self), our own dreams, our own ideals and our own aspirations in order to take our steps on the road of the life that God has planned for us? As I walked away from lunch with this "Man of God" I came to the conclusion that we are able to develop this walk in three ways, two of which involve "people watching". The first is by following/studying God's word, the second is by studying the life of Christ and the third is by emulating the lives of unapologetic followers of Christ in history as well as in the present. We come to realize that the way to a life of peace as mentioned in today's passage is by ending all fear and anxiety as those are not ways in which the "blameless and upright" live.
We all walk through life fearing things and I have personally had major fear issues. I spent a year and a half in fear as a prisoner to panic disorder with some agoraphobia and generalized anxiety disorder (to those reading this who have dealt with this or are dealing with it, I want to encourage you that this does not mean you don't love or trust God. He is stripping you of the areas that you are holding on to tightly. Be patient, it passes as we begin to fear it less. I also want to say, that you CAN be a follower of Christ and experience this. Be patient, it will go away.) During this time, my life was literally controlled by a fear inside of me that anything I did would lead to the end of my time on Earth or that I was going insane and would lose my wife and myself. It was a terrible time for me personally and was paralyzing in my personal growth as I was consumed with me (only now do I see the pruning (John 15) that God was doing by using this circumstance). During that period I had a difficult time watching others because all I could think about was how to get over this dreaded feeling of hopelessness. I was anxious about everything and with this anxiety came a true lack of peace, even in my walk with God. My wife, who should be Sainted for her support and unconditional love for me, taught me so much during that period. Somehow, while her husband was suffering and she was pregnant, she managed to maintain the peace of God that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7). I remember watching her wondering how she could have such a life of peace, even in the midst of not being able to do the things that she may have wanted to do. In hindsight, I see that the people who were supporting her during this time, namely some female mentors in the faith, played a major role in shaping her response to her circumstances as they were personally living lives of peace even in the midst of suffering and trial. Her answer to living a life of peace, was watching how others around her we're already doing it.
Today's scripture means so much to me personally because I know what it's like to live without completeness/peace. Though we may think we are doing what we were made to do, we never experience the peace of God that passes all understanding until our total contentment is found in His unfailing love and plan for us. As we read His word we learn to trust his perfect plan. As we follow the life of Christ, we see a man that "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:6-8) Jesus was a man who found that eternal peace came from obeying and following His father even when he knew he would encounter trial and "death on a cross" in which he sweat blood at the thought. As I watch those around me who have helped shaped me in the faith, I see men (and women) who are anxious about nothing because they placed their trust in God and his timing for their death, their place on the economic ladder, and their willingness to be used by God even if it is out of their comfort zones.
I hope today's passage encourages you to look at the lives of Christ followers around you who you admire. I don't mean casual Christians, or people who say the right things. I mean watching the blameless and upright, who have found completeness (peace) in this life because they understand that they have amazing worth as bearers of the image of God. Because the Spirit is in them, they understand that they have no control over Earthly circumstances such as their time of death or IQ and manage to see this life as the mist it truly is. Peace is found in giving our entire life to Christ, letting Him lead us where he chooses, and being the Shepherd that he claims to be who will give us full life (John 10:10). We need to be reminded that we have a God who loves us, unconditionally, and is always willing to accept you coming home to Him. As 1 Timothy 6:6 says, "...godliness with contentment is great gain", and we can only come to that contentment, and that peace, by allowing the Spirit of God to shape us into the upright and blameless people God desires us to be.