Peace (The Meaningful Life series)
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
This week in Jim's absence we had an insightful sermon on peace from our very own Chino Ogali.
Chino began his discussion of peace by telling a story of a group of schoolchildren who were asked by their teacher to draw a picture of what they thought peace looks like. 'One of the children drew a picture of a large field. Another drew of picture of a beautiful sunset. But one particular child drew a picture of a huge, raging waterfall, with the water crashing on the rocks below... What made this third picture so peaceful was the fact that above the waterfall, there was a little bird sound asleep in its nest. Even though there was danger down below, the bird knew that it was safe it the tree branch that held it.'
This is the kind of peace we are all in search of, yet it remains elusive. From contestants at beauty pageants who are known to commonly state that their greatest wish is for world peace, to university departments around the world committed to peace studies, to a rise in the practice of mindfulness, we are all engaged in this search for 'peace between nations, peace between neighbours, and peace within our own minds'.
Interestingly, Chino pointed out that the peace we are searching for is not merely the absence of conflict, though this is how many conceive of it. Instead, the peace we ought to aim for is much higher. It is 'a way of living life in a proper relationship between people and God, as well as individuals with one another'. This peace is not one of indifference and non-interference in each others lives, but of brothers and sisters living in harmony. 'How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!' - Psalm 133:1.
Neither is peace a feeling in the mind. Instead, it is 'an inner calm, contentment, and confidence in God and others, no matter what the outer circumstances may be'.
So how do we obtain this peace?
'Peace with God is the foundation of peace in every other area of our lives'. This peace is tied to forgiveness. A life of peace begins when we stop striving and trying to earn our own salvation, or on the other hand try to run away or hide from God, and instead come humbly before him and ask for his forgiveness. Here we find peace with God.
In turn, this allows us to forgive others and find peace with them, and empowers us to love and accept others as they are. When we all focus on loving our neighbours in this way, the world can change. 'If we truly want peace in the world, we must begin to love one another, in our families and our communities'.
Chino also suggested that rooting our identity in God, rather than in the opinions of those around us allows us to live at peace with ourselves in our own minds. No longer do we have to attain the high standards set by those around us or placed on ourselves. Instead we can find peace in who we are by resting in the knowledge of who created us, and love he has for us.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.