Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pursuing Peace:Part I

Pursuing Peace:
Part I- What is Peace?
By Ana Smith

In this world, day, and age, it appears that peace is nowhere to be found, which is entirely correct because it can only be found in Christ. Between wars and hurricanes, fast-food drive-thru’s, emails, and two minute prayers, where is peace? Although, what exactly is peace? How can we have it? Who has peace? Does peace purport freedom from war, a quiet inner assurance, life at a slow pace, or what?

Suppose a man once went on a journey to a magnificent land far away, and while preparing for it his friends asked him, “What is this wonderful place like?” Suppose further that the man answered, “I’m not sure, they say it’s a safe place and that you don’t have to worry about anything, but besides that I don’t really know.” In a similar way, that is how the world pursues peace. Clearly, to the United Nations and Capitol Hill, peace basically means retaining war to a minimum and making sure people have a “safe and secure job.” In fact, Webster’s Student Dictionary defines peace as, “1. An agreement to end hostilities. 2. Tranquil state; as: a. freedom from civil disturbance of foreign war. B. Public order or security; as, a breach of the peace. 3. Harmony in personal relations; as, to live at peace with one’ neighbors. 4. Inward serenity; calmness; quiet.”1 Further describing the world’s view of peace, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a German theologian and underground anti-Nazi conspirator, stated, “…How does this peace come about? Is it through the proclamations of men, or their politics, or economics? Perhaps it comes from power, from the armament. No. Man-made efforts of peace bring about a temporary feeling of safety and security. But, not real peace. That’s because we often confuse peace with safety. But, they are not the same…”2 If peace isn’t safety or security and if the world can’t offer real peace, than what is it and where can you find it?

Peace comes from God. Beautifully, Jesus declared, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not you heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”3 and, “I have told you theses things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”4 Giving us peace, Jesus gave us no worry, fear, or possibility of the world harming us, which is because when you trust God, you are in the hands of the greatest caretaker. As to what peace is Dietrich Bonhoeffer articulated it best, “…Peace is a great venture. It’s a dare to trust God completely. Peace requires us to give up our illusions of safety, security, our schemes and plans in order to rely upon Almighty God alone. Will there still be battles? Yes! But battles are won not with weapons, but with God. They are won where the way leads to the Cross.”2 In other words, peace is laying everything on the altar and trusting God completely.

Interestingly, two of my favorite hymns, “I’ve got Peace Like a River,” and, “It is Well With My Soul,”5 compare peace to a river, because just as a river possesses a multitude of characteristics and ever-changing natures, peace isn’t always the same. At times a river can be still and calm, rushing, or tumultuous and yet it is certainly still a river. Since peace can mean calmness and at other times it can seem to surge in and overflow, and still at other times be as Dr. Bonhoeffer put it, “A great venture…,”2 peace does not always mean a tranquil feeling. Pursuing peace, which includes trusting and surrendering also includes learning exactly eat peace is, how it works, and it’s different characteristics.

Peace, trust, and surrender are synonymous. Promisingly, Isaiah 26: 3-4 explains that God will guard those who understand and live this out, “You will guard and keep him in perfect an constant peace, whose mind [both it’s inclination and it’s character] is stayed on You; because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].”6 Leaning on your own understanding leads to chaos, which is why you must trust El Roi: The God who sees and surrender all to Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord is peace.

Alongside with scripture, numerous Christian songs attest to this crucial connection: “What a blessedness, what a peace is min/ Leaning on the everlasting arms/.l.. What have I to dread, what have I to fear/…I have blessed peace with my Lord so dear/Leaning on the Everlasting arms/…,” 7 “he is our peace who has broken down every wall/..Cast all your care on Him for He cares for you/…8 Because peace means to lay everything on God, that means you must trust Him, you must surrender all. Therefore, the world cannot offer peace, only God can, but how exactly can you obtain real peace?

1. p.597 Webster’s Student Dictionary 1950 G. &C. Merriam Co.
2. Excerpt from a speech given to the World Alliance meeting in Denmark.
3.John 14:27 KJV
4. John 16: 33 Amp.
5. Horatio Gates Spafford, 1873
6. Amplified Bible
7. “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” by Elisha A. Hoffman
8. “He Is Our Peace” by Kandela Groves
All Scriptures Authorized King James Version or The Amplified Bible

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