God’s Peace Within
The peace that Jesus gave his disciples and to us when he said: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you” is a peace that is in the midst of the world’s and our own tumult, suffering and pain. It is much more than “inner serenity” as we often like to think. It is also more than the absence of war, which is usually the meaning that comes to mind.
Peace in the Biblical understanding is often tied to God’s covenant and God’s promises for a “new heaven and a new earth.” Within the Bible peace is often – at least 100 times- related to justice or righteousness. In James 3:18 we read; “And a harvest of righteousness (of justice) is sown in peace for those who make peace.” Or in Psalm 85:10 it is written: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness (justice) and peace will kiss each other.” Or in 2 Peter 3:13-14 it says: “We have God’s promise, and look forward to new heavens and a new earth, the home of justice. With this to look forward to, do your utmost to be found at peace…”
It is important to note the order of justice and peace in these passages. Peace is always a result of justice. Over and over again the scriptures affirm: “There can be no peace without justice.” We can see this also as we observe happenings in our world. But the peace/justice process must begin with the personal peace – the gift that was/is given to each of us by Jesus in order to do the work of justice under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Someone has written:
From a quiet mind comes vision
From vision comes knowledge of unity;
From knowledge of unity comes compassion for all;
From compassion comes peace.
It is a cyclical process: Jesus gives us peace – in order to do justice – thus bringing peace to the world.
Jesus left his peace with his disciples. That peace was not an existence without tension, conflict, suffering or pain. It was a peace that comes through the suffering, an inner peace that helped deal with the tension, a peace that made the tension, conflict and turmoil a creative agent for change. This gift of peace is given to us as well. Too often we don’t accept it – we don’t get beyond the tensions, we don’t use the conflict creatively and thus we miss the true peace that God has for us.
God’s peace within each of us comes in silence, in listening to God. It involves a self-acceptance, a love of one’s self in order to love another. Rejection of others, guilt, sadness makes it hard to feel God’s peace. Inner peace is a freedom from fears and anxieties, it is an emphasis on trust, blessing and love. Peace within is not produced overnight, instead it is a learned process brought about by prayer, spiritual disciplines, self-knowledge and understanding, and developing a deep and abiding relationship with God.
God’s peace is here for us to accept as a true gift because we are a child of God, loved and cherished. Jesus told us not to be anxious about our lives. This is God’s promise of faithfulness. Can we accept this wonderful gift of inner peace in order to at peace in our families, communities, our churches, our nation and the world?
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.