Peace is such a tricky topic because it can mean so many things to so many people.
Globally, most of the world is in search of peace while small groups keep us on our toes. And it makes me wonder what peace really is, anyway. Some of our longest periods of peace have also been times where groups of people were just quietly oppressed. Civil rights didn’t really get going until people got vocal, disrupting the “peace and quiet” of the 1950’s. Women’s lib didn’t make strides until women got loud about it. Africa didn’t get the attention it needed until in the past twenty years, people made noise about the extreme poverty. Everyone was quite “peaceful” about taking in the excess of the 1990s in the US while mass genocide was occurring in Rwanda.
What I guess I am saying is that maybe it’s not peace that’s the problem, but rather what we think peace is and how we pursue it.
Jesus didn’t come this world to say, “Shut up and be peaceful.” He pursued social justice and was quite disruptive to the prevailing cultural system. He is called the Prince of Peace, yet in His wake, so many were persecuted because they follow Him. That persecution continues, even to this day.
Jesus is a big thinker and a visionary. He is a long-term thinker.
I, compared to Jesus, am a short term thinker. Long term for me means 10 years. Long term for Jesus means thousands of years. I focus on what my next immediate step is. Jesus focuses on the end game for the world.
So it’s no wonder that I am confused when I hear Jesus referenced both as the Prince of Peace and someone who states that families will be divided. How can that be? – unless I don’t know what true peace is.
Is peace just shutting up while others get hurt silently? Is peace denying my feelings so that someone else can not be bothered? I think that I confuse the idea of peace with the idea of comfort. If I am not comfortable, then I am not peaceful.
Maybe peace is the pursuit of justice in a manner that is, in itself, just.
I have a dear friend that I was speaking with at length this week. She expressed dissatisfaction with several areas of her life, but after talking about this dissatisfaction – we both came to the conclusion that she was bored.
Think of how many Americans, even now, have everything they should want – a home, a healthy family, a job – and yet, they are not happy.
My life has always been a continuous adventure. Everything has been perpetually moving forward – college, marriage, career. I often wonder, especially in the busiest times, what it is like to have no cares in the world.
But if I were designed to be carefree – wouldn’t I just be carefree? My friends who reach plateaus – times where they are standing still – often express dissatisfaction. They do not have peace. So instead, they fill their time with stuff to do.
I know because I do it too.
So what is peace, then? Boring? I think maybe peace is becoming the person who God made me to be and pursuing the world that God wanted us to have. When I am working, I have peace. When I am with my husband, I have peace. When I am with family and friends, I have peace.
Sometimes, though, it’s not comfortable. Sometimes I am stretched by the conversations and situations that I am put in.
This world we live in feeds us lies about what our lives should be. This world we live in tells us that peace comes easy. I don’t think that’s true.
Peace takes courage and strength to do the right thing, not the easy thing. Peace requires love. And not hold-eachothers-hands-and-sing-love, but real, gritty love that makes tough decisions. Self-sacrificing love. Love that wants the best, not the safest.
I know a lot of people who ARE peaceful. They are calm and rational in the face of major problems. They do not shut down, hoping that issues will pass. These peaceful people face the issues and make tough decisions.
I’ve been more anxious lately. Anxiety is often paralyzing, making it difficult to forward. Which is why I have been thinking a lot about peace. But not the kind of peace that causes me to knit sweaters and go to bed at 8 pm. I’m thinking more about the kind of peace that leads to real changes in not just my life, but in the world.
What can I be pursuing that will help me become the person I am meant to be? What can I be doing to bring real, lasting peace to the world?
My dear friend Toni asked me about Africa – “What do you think about going on a mission trip to Africa?” An innocent, but direct, question. The kind of question that makes me uncomfortable and itchy. It’s the kind of idea that requires prayerful consideration because it’s the kind of idea that could bring peace.
So maybe Africa or some kind of foreign mission. Maybe. Probably.
To be continued…