Peace is elusive. Whether we are talking about peace of mind or peace in the world, peace is elusive.
Perhaps these two kinds of peace are not completely unrelated. One person can do very little about the state of the world, but surely each individual can take responsibility for his or her own conduct. The fact is governing our own individual sinful tendencies is quite enough of a challenge.
When peace or the lack of it is the issue, what can we do but return again and again to the mystery of the Cross?
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13). (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10). (ESV).
We are not saved by good works; we are nevertheless created for good works. We may therefore be completely assured that God is in control. We may also be assured that we have a part to play, "walking" in good works, prepared by God beforehand.
This should give us the peace of mind we need to tackle challenges, both great and small. If we have relationship problems, we know very well there is within us more patience, more kindness, more love. If we are concerned about the state of the world, there are people and organizations that deserve our support. If we are concerned about finances, we might remember that even if we do run out of money, we need never run out of prayer.
In the Christian community, we often pray for each other. We ask for prayer; we receive prayer; we offer prayer. Prayer is the currency of our spiritual economy. Those who are rich in faith can afford to spend a great deal of time engaged in prayer, encouraging prayer, and listening to prayer.
Suppose we are living two thousand years ago, in a place called Ephesus. Suppose we are new Christians. Suppose we are bewildered by relationship issues and all manner of other doubts and fears, and we decide to visit our leader, a man named Paul. After listening to our complaints, he would pray for us as follows:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-20). (NIV).
No human poet, operating under his own will or intelligence, ever wrote more powerful or encouraging words. Is there a challenge we cannot face, a trial we cannot endure, a problem we cannot solve, when we are strengthened with the riches of God's glory?
If we can find peace in our hearts, therefore, we can work towards realizing the goal of peace in the world. "And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near." Ephesians 2:17. (ESV).
In faith and fellowship,