Toward a heartfelt peace
Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
Thousands of people are involved in peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo. It is an ongoing and complex task to make the region secure.
Yet movement toward stability and peace in any part of the world, no matter how difficult or fragile it may seem, is welcome news. Even if deeply-held animosities are still stirring, the absence of all-out war gives everyone involved an opportunity to reassess his or her motives, to think carefully about future actions, and, one would hope, to make a deeper commitment to establishing a permanent peace.
Over time, the challenge is not to mistake the lessening of fighting for genuine peace; not to become complacent and allow hurt or anger to smolder for a period, ready to ignite. For greater stability and progress, we need to keep pursuing the kind of peace that reaches all the way to people's hearts, healing deep hurts, eliminating long-standing animosities, and mending broken relations.
Such an all-encompassing peace is the work of God, felt through our prayers. It first dawns within us individually when we're humble and alert, yearning to know God's presence and to let His thoughts change our viewpoint. The Psalmist had it right: "I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints" (Ps. 85:8).
What is the viewpoint that God will change?
The typical view is that human nature can range from sweet to brutal, and that a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors is what determines an individual's character. That's what appears to be true. But that view, based solely on what the material senses perceive, isn't the real nature of identity, which God created and knows. And it's not the basis for the peace that He is revealing to us.
What kind of peace is He showing to us?
The peace that the Word of God speaks of is something we realize from a spiritual viewpoint, from the perception that God loves us and cares for us and is present with us; that we are all the sons and daughters of this one Father-Mother God, abiding in the kingdom of God; that our true nature is wholly spiritual and loving and good; and that we exist to express this nature.
An incomparable prover of the truth of this view was Christ Jesus. His purpose was to show humanity the presence of God's kingdom, and the spiritual power and goodness which enable us to heal pain and suffering, to overcome hate and sin, to repair embittered relations, and thus to help establish that kingdom on earth. This is the example of peacemaking at its highest.
Every step toward resolving conflict is a good one, and something to be grateful for. But Jesus indicated there is more work ahead to achieve lasting peace. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you," he said; "not as the world giveth, give I unto you" (John 14:27). We should continue to watch and pray, and to seek steadfastly the kingdom of God, divine Spirit.
That's essential counsel whether the human scene is chaotic or calm. The viewpoint that we all need and that prayer gives us is spiritual. "To attain peace and holiness is to recognize the divine presence and allness," wrote Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper ("Message to The Mother Church for 1902," pg. 16). This is the way to find real peace in our own lives, and to be effective peacemakers for the world.
Be careful for nothing;
but in every thing
by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let
your requests be made
known unto God. And the
peace of God, which
passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts
and minds through
Philippians 4:6, 7
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