‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives’ (John 14 v 27)
This Easter season, it struck me once again how each time Jesus appeared to his disciples, he offered them peace. Every Sunday we shake people’s hands and offer them peace, it trips off the tongue so easily, I wonder if we stop to think what a significant moment that is. What is it we are offering? What does it mean to say that, to wish someone would be at peace?
We are probably familiar with the term ‘Shalom’ which is bigger than our idea of just being quiet or peaceful – it includes a sense of wholeness, of wellbeing, of fulfilment and reconciliation. So, what would a life founded in shalom be like?
First of all, I would like to suggest that what Peace is not:
Peace is not the same as giving in – that is bullying
Peace is not the same as agreeing – that may be impossible
Peace is not avoiding the issue – that is abdicating our responsibility
Shane Claiborne says; Peace-making doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.
The medieval mystic Thomas A Kempis said; ‘Above all things keep peace within yourself then you will be able to keep peace among others’
If you would like to practice this journey of cultivating that inner peace, you may find these words helpful to meditate on:
We do not look to God beyond us or above us,
But attend to God who dwells within each one of us
Spending time with God in quiet
is not an escape from the troubles of the world,
for the God we encounter is also at the heart
of the world’s life and struggles.
So now, we surrender for these moments our speech,
Knowing that beneath the silence is a deeper Word
And that even when we say nothing
God is still listening
‘And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts’
(Col. 3 v 15)