Christian Values: Peace
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
The importance of peace in Christianity can hardly be overstated. Of the many desirable characteristics the Bible encourages, only three are referenced more frequently, according to research done by Ben MacConnell on Christian values. In both the Old and New Testaments, peace is a repeating theme. Often, Scripture describes the process of attaining peace between tribes or nations. At other times, one individual is encouraged to make peace with another. Perhaps most challenging are the passages calling us to find peace within ourselves, as well as to make peace with God.
We cannot understand peace without considering security, for the two are inseparable. Through the ages, nations have invaded other nations in order to protect or to enhance their security interests. Invading countries want more land, more resources, or more access to strategic locations. Anytime our security is threatened, our sense of peace is also threatened. Likewise, when someone threatens those in our charge, such as our children, we are likely to react in less-than-peaceful, even violent ways. A certain level of security is prerequisite to peace; and where our security is, there our heart will be also.
Some consider peace to be the absence of tension. Tension threatens our security, and thus, our sense of peace. Most of us do not like tension in our lives and strive to eliminate it. Indeed, excess tension is a common cause of physical and emotional maladies. In his book A Hidden Wholeness, Parker Palmer discusses the tension between reality and possibility. He writes, “…we must learn to hold the tension between the reality of the moment and the possibility that something better might emerge.” Parker believes we too often settle on less-than-desirable solutions to conflicts because we desire a quick release of the tension. Rather than taking the time and doing the work required to attain a mutually beneficial resolution over the long term, we seek the quickest and easiest way to peace, even if that peace is short-lived. Unresolved sources of tension tend to recur.
At its core, finding peace is an individual pursuit, and what we depend upon for our security is where we will find our peace. If we seek security in money and material possessions, we will always feel insecure because those types of treasures are easily lost to us. According to Matthew, it is the peacemakers who will be called the children of God. Based upon the life and teachings of Jesus, a peacemaker does not simply strive for the absence of tension. A true peacemaker finds his or her security in God, and then works towards solutions to problems that honor the dignity, interests, and worth of all involved. Security in God comes from the belief that God loves and values us as we are; and that reassurance is sufficient in and of itself for a strong sense of inner security. Peacemakers recognize that true peace is not a short-term endeavor. They understand their individual efforts may actually increase tension for a time, and ultimately may only contribute a small portion to the overall goal of bringing peace to the world. Even so, working for peace is what children of God do, and external peace necessarily begins with internal security.
Come home to church this Sunday. Find your peace in the Prince of Peace.