11.13.2011

peace

For the past few days, I've been writing an essay on peace. The term is used so frequently in today's society, thrown about as a slogan to write on colorful t-shirts and bumper stickers, alluding to the idea of tolerance, coexistence, and tranquility. From the followers of Gandhi, to the hippies of the 1960’s, to the uprising in Tiananmen Square, people cry out for a world without conflict, wars, and pain. But in reality, peace is so much more than simply coexisting.

The United States Armed Forces could tell you that they fight in combat overseas for the cause of peace. Though they may not be experiencing peace now, they know that just hoping the problems will go away will never lead to peace. Evil must be overcome, not ignored.  
 

Paul uses two references to peace in Romans that I believe shed light on what "peace" really is. First, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan." Obviously, God being a God of peace does not mean He simply ignores trouble or tolerates evil. Rather, He actively crushes sin in order to achieve true peace. Secondly, Paul says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The peace we have in our salvation was gained by the battle of Christ on the cross. We were justified, vindicated, and freed because Jesus suffered and died. Also, in the book of John, Jesus says, "“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Peace is achieved through conquering evil, not asking it if we can "all just get along." 


Peace in this world is a wonderful thing. But most important is our peace in the life to come. And that peace is the most valuable to me. I remember that on the night of July 31st, fifteen weeks ago, the night Jimmy got to go to Heaven, I was so stunned. In shock and grief, I grabbed the Bible nearest to me - Jimmy's Bible. It fell open in my lap, and my eyes, guided by God, fell immediately onto John 14. "Do not let your hearts be troubled," I read. "In My Father’s house are many dwelling places... I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." And further on, Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." Amidst the confusion and the sorrow, God gave us His peace. Not as the world gives, but the peace of knowing that Jimmy was Home. As much as we wanted him back, and as much as so many people have missed him and will continue to, we can have peace. It is a hard, painful peace, but it is peace.
 
Peace is one of the greatest parts of the gift of salvation. Through grace, we are no longer bound in sin. We no longer fear death. We no longer try to earn favor with God. This unfathomable grace brings us peace greater than anything this world has to offer. I've noticed  that Peter and Paul open most of their letters with the phrase "grace and peace be to you," and I believe this is yet another demonstration of the importance of the two. 

Peace. The word brings up so many cultural images. But in its fullest, peace is centered around Jesus, the Prince of Peace. In a world that is frantically searching for peace, we must be the ones to reach out. We cannot simply ignore the dying, desperate souls, we must overcome the barriers and use the power of grace to shatter the chains on humanity. Because that is the peace that this world truly needs. 






 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Shelby, this is phenomenal! It's obvious how thought-through this is, and how heart-felt. I am so frustrated by people claiming that peace and tolerance are the same thing, or products of each other. the saddest part is that they so often believe it. And as you said, our soldiers fight for peace- just as freedom isn't free, peace isn't sitting around and not fighting.
    And I loved those reference to Romans- your sentence "Peace is achieved through conquering evil, not asking it if we can "all just get along."" is perfect. Thanks for sharing. :)
    Lydia Albano

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