Independent Legendary Book Store Offering Millions of Titles Across Varied Categories Since 1978. Delivering Worldwide
A best-selling author, pastor, futurist, and cultural thought leader argues that to experience and establish inner peace, we must first confront the battles that rage within.
Your longings for inner peace and deep purpose are attainable, but they won't come easy. They require a warrior's mentality. Fighting for them requires passion, perseverance, and precision.
This is an invitation to an unflinchingly honest look at your interior life guided by the ancient principles and methods revealed through Scripture. Erwin Raphael McManus delivers wisdom, instills passion, and provides the sacred movements needed to become the warrior you were meant to be.
We live in a time of global and personal chaos. The world is at war because our souls are at war. The path to peace begins with you overcoming your most frequent and fierce enemy: yourself.
The Warrior Fights Only for Peace.
The warrior is not ready for battle until they have come to know peace. For all the wars that have ever been waged from the beginning of time were first born in a person’s heart. We have a history of war because our souls are at war. We have conflicts because our hearts are conflicted. Every war, every conflict, every act of violence exists because our souls rage. Our only hope for peace is to win the battle within. Every war against another is a war that never should have been fought. It should have been won long before. It should have been won from within. This is our first battle. The war to end all wars is the battle for the human heart. This is the war we must win. To know peace is the way of the warrior.
It is impossible to ignore that God is often associated with wars. Certainly the people of Israel have a history of war as well as one of faith. We might conclude that the God of Scripture is a god of war, yet it is the opposite that is true. God is a god of peace. We are the ones who brought war to the human story. And since then, God has been fighting for us to find our way back to peace.
Solomon tells us that there is a time for war and a time for peace. Our history betrays us though. Our past is marked by war, while peace has forever eluded us. Sadly, the story of humanity can be marked by the weapons we have forged. From stones to arrows to swords to bullets to missiles, our inventions betray our intentions. An outside observer might say that we are creatures of violence for whom peace is simply the language of poets and philosophers. Yet the way of the warrior is not about refining our skills for war; it is about choosing the path of peace.
I have chosen this language, but you may find it at first contrary to the intention of this book. Peace can come only when it is fought for. This is true for any and every kind of peace, whether it’s peace on earth, interpersonal peace, or inner peace. It never comes to the passive. In fact, if you choose the way of peace, you will find yourself in a constant struggle and endless battle. The peace we seek must come from within, and this, you will discover, is the greatest of all battles. It was Job who uttered, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
I am convinced his words echo in every heart: “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” It is a story that all of us can write. It is the struggle that all of us know, some more profoundly than others.
If precedent is an accurate predictor of the future, we should not expect we will ever know a world defined by peace. It is perplexing when I meet people who believe there is no God and yet still believe in peace. After all, peace is an ideal of which we speak, but it’s something this world has never fully known. The human story is marked by envy, jealousy, greed, violence, and bloodshed. There will never be peace on earth until there is peace in us. This is why the way of the warrior must begin here. To find your strength you must find your peace, for the path to inner strength is inner peace.
This is where our journey begins. The way of the warrior begins with finding the missing peace. There are certain names that stand out throughout history as beacons of peace. Strangely, when you choose the path of peace in the midst of violence and rage, you are often simply remembered by a single name—for, example, Gandhi, Mandela, Teresa, Tutu, Buddha, and, of course, Jesus. Although each of them advocated for peace in the midst of violence, it is Jesus alone who claimed to actually be the peace our souls long for.
Jesus lived in a time of turmoil and conflict. He was born in a world where his people were oppressed by a foreign empire. While we think of Jesus as a man born free, he was actually born a slave. In fact, Jesus was a survivor of an infanticide ordered by a king who feared for his reign. All of Israel lived enslaved by the Roman Empire. Israel belonged to Rome. The Hebrews were the Romans’ possession. As a man, Jesus was considered a subject to a Caesar who proclaimed himself a god with the right to rule over the lives of all mankind. If Jesus knew freedom, it was not because of his circumstance. If Jesus knew peace, it was in contrast to the chaos that surrounded him. It is in this context that he spoke to his disciples and said to them, “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.”
Jesus’s words must have seemed both profound and perplexing to those who heard him. After all, they expected him to bring peace. Many who believed he was the Messiah thought that he would come to deliver them from the Roman Empire. The title Messiah had come to mean something very specific to the Jewish people. They expected that this Messiah would parallel the life of King David. It would be this Messiah that would lead his people to overthrow the greatest empire in the world. This Messiah would become their king, and the fulfillment of the promise would be found in their freedom. The coming of the Messiah would be the end of oppression.
The words of Isaiah had been passed on for generations: “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”
There was a very simple litmus test for the Messiah: if he does not establish peace, he cannot be the Messiah. It was his responsibility to bring them peace; he was the embodiment of true peace, yet the type of peace they had hoped for never came. His words must have seemed bittersweet. He spoke of peace with such certainty in the midst of such chaos that it probably caused many onlookers to assume Jesus was a bit naive. There must have been many who wanted to look at Jesus and say, “As hopeful and poetic as your words may be, you need to get a grip on reality. This is not peace. If you came to set us free, to establish a kingdom of peace, then you are a dismal failure and a grave disappointment to all of us who have been waiting so long for the Messiah to bring about change.”
No one had quite the courage to speak so bluntly to Jesus, but there couldn’t have been anything more frustrating for Jesus’s listeners than a declaration of peace when their world was in turmoil. Even today, Jesus’s words cut to the very depth of our souls and he seems to know our thoughts even as he speaks peace into our lives: “I do not give to you as the world gives.” It’s almost as if in one quick phrase he indicts the history of human violence. The peace he brings will never come to us the way we had hoped or expected. This is not the way of the warrior, only the way of violence.
You might find it peculiar that I would describe Jesus as a warrior. After all, he is most commonly known as a man of peace. Yet you cannot properly understand Jesus if you do not grasp that his entire life’s purpose was to win the greatest battle of the greatest war that has ever been fought.
God stepped into human history to fight for us. He did not hope for peace; he fought for peace. Sometimes the true mission of Jesus is misunderstood because he never carried a physical weapon in his hands. Yet if you want to see the true marks of a warrior, you need to look at the scars on his hands. In his death and resurrection, Jesus took upon himself all the violence of the world so he could bring all the world his peace. That is why he is most profoundly and uniquely the warrior of peace. That is why we’re pursuing his path.
The War Within
Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” With simplicity and wisdom, he cuts between the two things that steal our peace, for the greatest enemies of the peace within are worry and fear.
All around me I find troubled hearts—men and women drowning in worry. We have become so adept at worrying that we have created an endless number of names to describe the nuances. Whether we use the language of stress or anxiety or find ourselves in the depths of depression or despair, worry is the source of so much of our hearts’ troubles. Worry projects a negative view of the world around us. Worry projects a negative future. Worry is an act of faith. It is a deep‑seated belief in worst‑case scenarios. Worry is not rooted in reality but does affect our reality.
I’ve also found irony in these words of Paul: “Be anxious for nothing.” I know that what he means is that we should not allow anything to make us anxious, but the truth is that it is usually nothing that is making us anxious. Our anxiety, our distress, our worry—when stripped to its very essence—is rooted in nothing, or at least in nothing we can control. Paul’s solution, of course, is to be anxious in nothing, but in all things, through prayer, we should bring our thanksgiving to God. It seems he’s telling us that anxiety comes when we try to control things that are out of our control. We become anxious because we haven’t learned to trust.
It is interesting that in another place where Jesus speaks of peace, he brings up trouble once more. Here he says to his disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.”
This is an important contrast. First he says to us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” but then he says to us, “In this world you will have trouble.” We have no control over the reality that in this world we will have trouble, but we have control over whether we decide to allow our hearts to be troubled. He makes the promise that though there will be trouble in this world, we can take heart, for he has overcome the world. Our worry will steal our peace, and when peace is missing, we find ourselves drowning in anxiety and crumbling under the weight of life’s pressures.
He also said, “Do not be afraid.” If worry wars against our peace, fear is perhaps an even greater foe. When we live our lives afraid, it creates turmoil and chaos within us. Fear is the enemy of peace. While worry will rob our joy, fear will steal our freedom, for what we fear establishes the boundaries of our freedom. What we fear has mastery over our souls. When we are anxious, we lose our strength. When we are afraid, we lose our courage. When we have found peace, we have both the strength and courage to live the lives we were created to live.
Even in my own life I see the relationship between worry, anxiety, and the inability to control the world around me. Throughout my life I have had a fear of dogs. Even to this day I still jump when a dog moves in my direction, even though I love dogs. The root of this fear is not undiagnosable for me.
When I was around five years old, I saw my brother get bitten by a dog. It could have been either one of us, but as life would have it, he was the one the dog targeted. Oddly enough, my brother, who was actually bitten by the dog, never developed any fear of dogs whatsoever. My fear and anxiety were rooted in what could have happened and not in the reality of what did happen. It was as if for the rest of my life I kept waiting for what I feared to happen, even though to this day I have never been bitten by a dog.
For years I was afraid of roller coasters. Again, it was not rooted in something irrational. When I was around ten years old, the seat belt broke while I was riding a roller coaster, and I held on for my dear life. I remember screaming my guts out, trying to get the operator’s attention, but he was too busy smoking to notice. I was never thrown out of the roller coaster, as I managed to hold on until it finally came to a stop, but out of that negative experience an enduring fear took over. I spent years watching other people ride roller coasters. But that’s exactly what fear and anxiety do to you: they put you on the sideline watching life happen. I couldn’t control the variables if I got into the roller coaster, so I stayed on solid ground to give me a sense of control.
It was years later when I finally determined to overcome that fear. Without fully understanding the complex nature of fear and anxiety, I knew what I had to do was get on a roller coaster. I had to destroy an ingrained belief that if I got on the coaster I would die. Since that time, I have enjoyed a lifetime of extreme inclines and insane drops. I love roller coasters. I love the feeling that happens when my stomach drops. I love the illusion of free-falling and plummeting to my death.
Ironically, those two phobias in my life helped me establish a pattern of overcoming fears in multiple arenas. Every fear feels justified. One reason is that every fear has a seed of truth in it. But the thing is that you do not ultimately have control over your life. Peace does not come because you finally have control over your life; peace comes when you no longer need control.
If fear has a direct object, anxiety is fear without an object. We experience anxiety when we feel overwhelmed by life. In order to reduce our anxiety, we often create smaller and smaller boundaries to give us some sense of control over our lives.