Q. What is the meaning of peace in such a troubled world?
A. I hope the following answer helps you to come to term with this great concept. This answer may contain errors in grammar and punctuation as we spend most of our time trying to answer as many of the questions presented to us and less time on writing errors. When we speak of peace, we may mean peace with God, ourselves, others or our environment. Peace with God is the foundation on which a Christian’s faith is built. This does not mean that we have an easy life, it means that in the middle of the pain and confusion of this life, we have a secret place to go to find love, acceptance, and peace. We were designed to be dependent on our Creator. If we are dependent on Him, He is able to give us the resources we need to live a much better adjusted life on earth. Just like there are essential nutrient for the body, there are also essential nutrient for us emotionally and spiritually. People search constantly and many times thoroughly for these nutrients, but they are only found in God. It is a fool’s mission to try to seek them outside of God and leads only to frustration and disillusionment. To be dependent on God, we have to ask Him to enter our lives and organize the events of our life as He sees fit. We all have a control room in our heart where all the levels and switches that run our life are located. When we allow Him to set at the controls and run our life, we are living in the Spirit. We have loved and trusted Him enough to allow Him the ultimate power in our life. To serve Him and do His will must be the primary desire of our life. He must come before every other desire in our life. If His spirit is in us, we will choose His way in every aspect of our life. Sometimes we speak of peace with our environment. This is about the situations that are all around us. We might ask, “can a Christian be at peace in a troubled world?” How about the threats to our faith in this country? How about the threats to our lives from terrorist? Can we really be at peace with all the bad things that swirl around us at times? It all depends on our perspective. If we talk about a very troubled family in the large state of Texas, we can say that this family is not at peace with each other, but we cannot say that the whole state is in conflict. If every other family in Texas was at peace, then we would have to conclude that the people of the state of Texas are overwhelmingly at peace. Yes, this is a troubled world, and if our focus is on this world than we can easily get discouraged. But the Christian sees a much bigger picture than this world. To give you an example of how much bigger, consider this: There is a mountain range as massive as the whole Himalayan Range of mountains. A small bird lands on this huge mountain range once every one hundred years and wipes its beak on the hard rock surface. When this bird has completely wore down the entire range we will have experienced the first second of eternity. As you can see from this example, our life on earth is an extremely brief time compared to eternal life. In eternity we will look back (in perhaps a trillion years) on our life on earth. It will seem that it lasted such a short time as we look back. I believe we will wonder why we got so excited. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing but it doesn’t feel helpful when we our in the middle of painful, confusing problems. The Bible says that “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” It is important that we view life here from an eternal perspective, if we want to really know the truth. If we are Christians, we are citizens of an eternal kingdom even as we are citizens of our country here on earth. It is much easier to face the problems in this life if we face the truth that we are citizens of an eternal kingdom. We can put up with any and all problems in this life, if we have this big picture. We are just moving through this life and the real action is in our eternal country (home). Citizens of this eternal country will experience no more suffering, no more tears. They will be filled to the top with joy, happiness, goodness and peace to name a few. There will simply be no room for anything but goodness. We will meet people who have died before us. We will experience great times with these people, since we will free from conflicts and problems, free to love them as we all really would desire to do so here. There will be no jealousy and the like, we will be different and we will enjoy each other immensely. If you are not part of this eternal kingdom, now is the time to pursue it with all your heart. I don’t mean to minimize or trivialize our problems that seem to dominate our life here at times, I am just opening the way for you to think that these problems will not always be with us. Life is hard at times, and when difficult problems come our way, we do suffer and seek relief. I just don’t think that our suffering should make us blind to the truth. If they do, they have won. They hurt once when we go through them initially, and then again every time we allow them to take control of our current thinking. Consider the following Bible versus that God has inspired men to speak to you who are in trouble. Mark 9:50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in ourselves, and be at peace with each others.” John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 4:6 & 7 Do not be anxious abut anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Being at peace with ourselves is a little more complicated. Many times we are raised in a way that makes it difficult to forgive ourselves. The Bible says that we must take every thought captive. I believe this means that we should not accept every thought that enters our head. We should treat our thoughts as strangers who have entered our life. Are they good and helpful or are they wrong and harmful? Most of our thoughts are somewhere in between. Our challenge is to discern the bad and reject it, and recognize the good and keep it. Some of our thoughts have been with us for a long time and seem so apart of us. It takes time and concentration to pick out the good and the bad. Why is it so important to watch our thoughts and accept only the truth? It is because our thoughts (in many cases) generate our feelings, which in turn can have a real effect on how we act. If we want to feel and act properly we must work at learning to discern our thoughts and think as correctly as possible. The Bible and reality give us a reference point for our thinking. This may sound a little complicated, and may reek of hard work, but it is certainly a worthy, great quest for the Christian. It is to our own self interest to think correctly for if we don’t, we will suffer needlessly. There is no virtue in suffering needlessly. We will never discern perfectly, but every time we see the truth more clearly we will experience a greater sense of freedom. Being at peace with others is a result of being at peace with God and our self. When God is controlling our life, we begin to act more as His spirit would act. His spirit in us sweetens our reactions to life. We become so grateful for all He does for us, it becomes more natural for us to accept and forgive others around us. We simply can’t treat others wrong, when God treats us so right. If you want to get a better handle on the realities of the Christian life, I will challenge you to go through the New Testament of the Bible and write down at least 10 to 20 promises you find. Read these promises at least twice a day. In a notebook write down your feelings and thoughts, as you read these promises each day. I ask you to do this for only 30 days. At the end of 30 days, compare your thoughts and feelings with those you started with. The change, in your thoughts and feelings, is because you are concentrating on the eternal truth, not only what a short sighted world feeds you each day. Bob