I once listened to a sermon where the pastor preached that peace was not necessarily the absence of war. The rest of the week, I was working to describe peace to myself.
Despite what I tried, peace is very hard to define. I thought of times when I had personal peace, or when I felt at peace, but peace itself seemed to lack a specific definition.
There’s a passage in the gospel of John, chapter 14 verse 27, where Jesus tells his disciples that he is leaving:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
If I define peace the way Jesus does, I should not be troubled in heart, or afraid in heart.
Half (okay, okay, 90% then) of the things in my life cause me worry; they trouble my heart and make me afraid. I don’t have a bad or terrible life, and yet I spend time fretting over things I cannot change. Or, when bad things happen to me or those I love, what is it that agitates my soul past being able to settle? Better put: why do bad things upset me when they happen?
Perhaps I believe somewhere deep down, that if I do the right things, I can mostly avoid catastrophe. It’s fairly true that–in doing the right things–I can avoid destruction and chaos, but it is not necessarily true that I should avoid all trouble. Why? Unfortunately, it’s because I live in a world where we all make our own choices. If we have a higher moral direction to guide us, we’re likely to make better choices than if we choose to please only ourselves.
Maybe, to have peace means to have faith.
When we say things like, “I want to be my own boss” and “religion works for some people, but not for everyone” I think we are being harmful in how we view ourselves and others. Either everyone has a spiritual side (that they feed or starve) or those who claim we do are plain nuts. However, beings who are genuinely concerned for their souls work to do the right things for the right reasons.
Bad things are going to happen to me, and to people I know and love. If this is a given fact–and it is–then I should be able to train myself to respond instead of react. Namely, I should work toward peace with my offender. Who has an ultimate say in whether I live or die? Not me! Therefore, I have faith that everything will balance in the end. Neither can I predict the afterlife; if a do believe in an afterlife, and I’m wrong, I’ll just die. But if I don’t believe in an afterlife, and I’m wrong, it’s too late to go back and fix it.
I cannot direct where I go, or you will go, Reader. But I can direct you to the Judge. When someone offends me, doesn’t it count better to try and repair the relationship, since the Judge will already judge my offender for their crime? Philippians 2:12 says:
…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Peace. I will not let my heart be troubled by trivial things. I will not let my heart be afraid.