Peace – a beautiful but difficult achievement

Peace…a beautiful word, but a difficult achievement.

Someone once wrote: “The only place to find peace is in the dictionary.”

Or another said: “Keeping peace in the family requires patience, love, understanding and at least two television sets.”

Many of us are more familiar with the word stress than the word peace. Much of life is stressful –  the noisy motor bike that roars past your house, the demands of your workload or the juggling of our finances to see who will be our lucky creditor for this month. Whether it is simply the news from Afghanistan we can no longer bear to hear, life is stressful. Maybe even today you have experienced  stress. Sometimes that car journey between home and church can be like no other drive in the week.

Once a man was picked up for speeding. Asked why he was speeding, he replied: “I was trying to get away from the noise coming from the back-seat.”

Sometimes married life too, can be stressful. The way men and women think differently can be a source of stress. He would like a new car; she is keener to pay off the house loan. A 75 year old man was once examined by his doctor and told he had the health of a man 25 years younger. He explained that it was his marriage that had helped his health, saying to the doctor,

“When my wife and I married 50 years ago we made an agreement. Whenever we see a fight or feud coming on, she stays in the house while I go out for a long walk. I guess my good health is due to the fact that for 50 years I’ve pretty much lived an outdoor life!”

Very few people can tell you how to find peace in your life.  Few of the great writers and thinkers of our time can tell you how. Science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov once made a ‘dog in the manger’ kind of response when asked about personal peace: “I don’t have a prescription for peace I‘m afraid, except that I am pretty sure Christianity doesn’t help.”

That’s like us dismissing his science-fiction writings without ever reading a page. And again, here’s a good one from the horror writer Stephen King: “My prescription for peace? Die. There’s nothing to be had on this earth.”

Again, many people are disappointed in the lack of peace they have found in world religions. The 29 year old Japanese artist Mieki Numata wrote:” I have not found any kind of satisfaction from Shinto or mainstream Buddhism. The only message you hear in Japan these days is work, consume, work, consume. Isn’t there more to life than that?”

Since Victory Over Japan Day (VJ), there have been years of relative peace in the west, yet there has been a kind of uneasy international peace. Sydney Smith the writer has noted, “Only 8% of the time since the beginning of recorded history has the world been at peace.”

So what is the answer? How can we know peace? Peace defined, not simply as the cessation of hostilities, but peace as wholeness, harmony, a feeling of being right with oneself, and with others?

Doris Mortman in the magazine Circles has said,

“Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.”

Well how do we make peace with who we are?  A little therapy? Maybe a spot of hypnotism or a couple of new age crystals in our pocket?

Far more profound is an encounter with the Prince of Peace. When we meet Jesus and are baptised in His love. When we die to our old life and rise up to a new one. When we are born again through faith in Jesus. When we are freed of memories of sin and break the power of sin, then we can know peace.

But there is a qualification even to this. Jesus says,

“Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth – no, I tell you, but rather division”.

As if that’s not enough, he says: “I came to cast fire, on earth.”

Jesus even says,“ I have come to bring division, even in that most sacred of institutions – the family. Father and son will be divided against each other, mother against daughter, daughter against mother- in- law. So how does His coming give us any hope of peace?

He divides, and advises that following Him may turn generations against each other. How then is He the Prince of Peace?

Have you ever had surgery? Ever had to go through the fasting, probing and preparations?

Some of you have had an angiogram and experienced a lot of pain. Some of you have given birth to children and experienced the pain and trauma that involves. You had to pass through the pain before the good came about. So with Jesus. He does give peace, but He has to do a little spiritual surgery in our hearts and lives before we can know true peace. Jesus’ peace comes from meeting Him.

So then how do we find Jesus’ peace?

  1. Humility  – Come to him with a repentant heart and say, “Lord I am sorry I have ignored you in my life. I repent, help me to begin again.’
  2. Faith – Put your faith In Him. Trust Him. You have begun a new relationship with a heavenly friend.
  3. Baptism – Be baptised. That is always the way in which a new Christian signifies they are a new person. Baptising little children signifies that we want them to grow up as Christ’s followers.
  4. Time – Spend time with the Prince of peace.  Remember when you first hung around with someone you loved deeply. You wanted to spend time with them: fun times, serious times, planning times and simple happy times. Do that with Jesus and you will have peace.
  5. Give – Learn to be a giving person. Learn to love being generous – with your time, money, appreciation and encouragement. Serve others until it hurts, and you will have peace.
  6. Balance – Have a balanced lifestyle. You may have to say no to a promotion so you can spend more time with your wife and children. If you are married or single, you need to also make time to be alone, or you may need to give your spouse more time to him or herself.

Malcolm Muggeridge wrote in his book Something Beautiful for God,

“We need to find God and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.”

A child once reminded me of that.  This little boy said to me the other night:

“When I go to bed I think of Jesus. And sometimes I kneel down.”

How beautiful. Let Jesus bring you His peace today. Peace that will seem painful to receive, a bit like passing through fire, but on the other side is the peace of Jesus, Jesus your eternal friend and Lord.

By George Robert Iles