“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” – Jesus (John 14:27 NIV).
When I think of peace, the first thing that comes to my mind is place. I have so many memories of places with peaceful surroundings. Green Lane Park where I go for my times with God. Retreat centers I have visited. My father wrote about the most peaceful place to him being the Town of Butler N.Y. where he grew up on a farm during the 30s and 40s. Even after so many years the memory of that place brought to him a sense of peace.
The Passover meal might have been a place of peace for the disciples, particularly because they were sharing it with Jesus. Yet this evening they were deeply conflicted, disturbed and confused. They lived in an occupied land and their world was framed by the confluence of two hostile political realities: the Roman Empire and the Jewish Sanhedrin. They were regular, ordinary people who had been spending time with an extraordinary master on whom they pinned all their hopes for peace. Yet they were uneasy because things were beginning to unravel. Jesus was speaking in riddles. Judas Iscariot had left abruptly. The other Judas, son of James, was confused. So were Peter, Thomas, Philip and the others. “Where are you going? Why can’t we go with you? Who is the Father you’re speaking of? Why aren’t you revealing yourself to everyone?” These were the fearful questions they were asking. The only calm one at the table was Jesus.
Jesus Christ, our Prince of Peace, sits at our table. We are just as confused and fearful as the ones in the upper room were. We need peace. Inner peace. Personal peace. Inter-personal peace. International peace. Yet we face conflict in all these areas. As the Apostle Paul put it, “fightings within and fears without”. In Christ alone is true peace, hope for peace and the power to make peace.
The Peaceful One who, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, was filled with a serenity that came from the depths of an eternal triangular love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As we sit with the Lord, will we receive that gracious gift of “shalom” from him? It is he, the Source and Giver of peace, who offers us that wholeness of soul, the well-being of a community that is in Him and the calm serenity to follow and serve him in this world.
“Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6-7).
What are some of the influences that tend to disturb your sense of peace with God?
What are some of the peace-substitutes that you have tried?
What holy habits do I need to develop that will help me operate from that inner peace of Christ’s presence?