When I was growing up, peace was synonymous with knowing my parents were near and caring for every facet of my life.Later, of course, I had to look elsewhere for security. Peace came to mean satisfying work, an appropriate place to live, companionship. I've come to see, though, that the whole question of what determines our peace goes much deeper than the moment's circumstances.
Feeling at peace is a divine right. Actually, it's more than a right-it's the unalterable state of man's being. As God's offspring we are at peace, because God, the Father and Mother of man, is caring for every need of His creation.
But more is required than simply asserting this truth. We need to understand it, to trust it and feel it deeply. We have to go beyond being complacent about current circumstances. Perhaps we have a home we love, a satisfying job, good friends. We may have grown up in a loving environment. But is our peace the product of such circumstances, or is it rooted in something deeper, more certain? Are those who are struggling along in less happy circumstances deprived of peace, stuck with misfortune?
These are significant questions, and they really go to the heart of Christ Jesus' teachings. Jesus told his disciples, and all of us, ''Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." n1 But at another time he said, ''Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.''n2 On the surface these statements may seem contradictory. But if we deeply consider Jesus' mission, we'll see they're in perfect harmony.
n1 John 14:27.
n2 Matthew 10:34
The peace that the Master imparted, and that the Christ, Truth, forever imparts, is ''not as the world giveth.'' It's unrelated to complacent, earthbound, materialistic thinking. Genuine peace is totally spiritual, because its source is God, not outward conditions. The evidence of His care-the harmony of home, relationships, and so forth-is to be desired, and it's a legitimate desire. But of even greater importance is some understanding of the largely unseen spiritual truth that man is eternally at peace, despite human circumstances, because God alone is the source and sustainer of his being.
Jesus brought a sword to a false sense of calm, asleep to God's government and to man's higher, Christlike selfhood. The Way-shower brought a sword to selfishness, hypocrisy, indifference, sensualism - to the state of thought that would belittle, even crucify, spirituality. He also brought a sword to well-intentioned ignorance, satisfied with a narrow, unprogressive, sluggish life in the flesh.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, ''False pleasure will be, is, chastened; it has no right to be at peace.''n3
n3 Miscellaneous writings, Pg.209.
Our living of Jesus' teachings is the surest way to plunge beneath the shallow waters of mortal existence and anchor our lives in the depths of divine Love's care. In Love there are no uncertainties, no contradictions, only perpetual progress and peace. But we need to bring our thoughts and lives into harmony with God's law in order to experience that peace, to feel His unopposable presence, His sure guidance.
Our Exemplar has shown us the way to do this. It's to love God with all our being and to love our fellowman as ourselves. It's to embody purity and childlike innocence. It's to be wise, alert to the worldly, sensual influences that would have us indifferent to God, complacent with life in the flesh with its deceptive pleasures. It's to acknowledge Spirit, not matter, as our creator. ''The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,''n4 the Bible assures us.
n4 Galations 5:22
Clearly, the path to peace within the individual is the way to peace among races and nationalities. Harmony can only be found through loyalty to the one God and through the living of man's higher and only selfhood as His image. God's creation isn't truly composed of deprived, frustrated, warring mortals but of spiritual identities at peace in God's love. This is the ideal Jesus demonstrated throughout his career. It's the ideal we can increasingly bring to light in our own lives. DAILY BIBLE VERSE To be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6