Our world has sought peace forever. When one investigates world history, he discovers conflict has been a constant headline of current events. Recent generations have seen protests and protesters calling for peace in opposition to wars. Protests have been staged in opposition to inequality found in race, class, economics, poverty, etc.
Peace has also been sought on other levels in man’s existence. Interpersonal relationships call out for peace. These may be found in a person’s work place, social friendships or families. Most of all, peace must be found in a person’s soul. But often peace is not enough.
Peace is often found in the status quo. In the absence of conflict we continue to do what we have always done. If the boss challenges us to produce greater results, we may pick up the pace for a period of time but soon revert to the same method of doing things.
If we quarrel with our spouse, we may change our some habits for a period of time only to fall back to our old ways.
If a parent admonishes us concerning our misbehavior or bad habits, we may step up our actions to please them but soon, looking at the habits of our peers, we defy our parents and copy what others are doing.
Our peace is defined as “doing enough to please someone else and raise our standards of behavior” only to return to the old bad habits and way of life.
Peace may be found in conforming to our peers’ expectations.
• Conforming to peer -pressure as a child may lead to peace with a bully who threatens us physically so emotionally we succumb to his threats and cower into conformity.
• As a college student we find peace by accepting a professor’s view point without challenge and accept a grade that conforms with other students as we feed back to the professor what he wants on tests and term papers. We do not desire to “stick out like a sore thumb” among our peers but our soul is in turmoil.
•Adults enter relationships where peace supersedes confrontation or dispute. Many do what is expected and nothing else. The employee who excels and does more than is expected can find himself ostracized by peers for making them look bad.
In personal relationships with friends and others in the community with whom we rub shoulders, we fail to express our personal feelings lest we be ridiculed for not conforming to the group. Expressions such as “I am fine” or “everything is okay” are acceptable to the group but do not express reality in our soul.
Unfortunately, this trend is present in marriage and family relationships as well. Our standard of behavior is defined by how others approach such relationships. Each one wants peace but they fail to find it on the “altar of conformity” because there is something which is greater.
Resources greater than peace.
• Living water is spoken of in Jeremiah 2:13, “My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” We have many broken cisterns in our lives. These may include the way we handle life as well as find meaning for our lives.
In John 4, Jesus speaks to the woman at the well. She came to draw water but when she meets Jesus she reveals some of the broken cisterns in her life.
1. “I am a Samaritan” she said revealing her identity and using her ethnicity for fulfillment. In so doing she reveals her source for peace of mind found in fulfilling the requirements of her ethnic group. She identified with Jacob’s accomplishments as if they were most important.
2. “I have no husband” revealed more of her insecurities. The truth is, she tried to find peace of mind in marital relations but that had failed in five relationships and now she was fearful to commit to the responsibilities and uncertainty of another.
3. “I worship on this mountain” indicating she was seeking peace in a religion. Pure religion fails to bring peace and often creates conflict due to conflicting religious opinion. Religion often arms one to be in conflict with others and self. Jesus said, “You worship what you do not know.” True worship is found in a God that can be known and experienced.
The Samaritan woman exchanged her empty water pot for an all knowing Savior as she repeated, “He has told me everything I did.” Living water is greater than a peaceful existence because Jesus reveals the depths of our souls and nothing is hidden from him. Everything else is like a broken cistern.
• A more excellent way is spoken of in I Corinthians 12:31 where the Apostle Paul gives a preface to the chapter on love. Peace apart from a change of heart is no peace at all. Often one lives in a state of peace anticipating the next conflict; this is not peace either. Even in the absence of conflict, our lives and relationships are mediocre. We must draw a line in the sand and determine not to live a life of mediocrity. We want the most excellent way which is enjoying everything God ever intended for us. We want our lives to edify others and glorify God.
I Corinthians 13:7 states, “Love…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” Love is not mediocre, does not conform to peer-pressure, nor accepts the status quo.
• Real peace was not found in our previous model for it was inadequate. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:14 states, “For he himself is our peace. He has made the two one.” This is the very definition of peace as two sides come together in agreement. He is not just the peacemaker but he is peace. In Christ, everything that divides is loosened and crumbles. Both sides are molded into him.
Further in Romans 5:1, “We have peace with God once we have been justified by faith.” This speaks of the change of heart in man by God and our change of position with God. We are no longer strangers and enemies but part of God’s family. Peace is our possession once we have been justified by faith. Paul follows this in Philippians 4:7 with the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”
Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ live in your hearts.” The term “live” is literally “rule as an umpire” in your hearts. Today’s umpires need replay to make sure their call is correct. We have the peace of God that makes the calls and restrains anger, revenge and wrath. All decisions, words and actions must be made according to the peace of Christ. Anything less leads to conflict.
Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” These two clauses are parallel; we should be pursuing that which leads to peace and that which leads to edification. This begins with what we have in common, the rest divides. We need to search our own hearts to see what we can do for peace and determine that all we do builds up, constructs and edifies everyone else.
Peace is not maintaining the status quo or avoiding conflict. Peace is proactive as we find peace with God, experience his peace as it rules in our lives and then seek to extend that peace with others by edifying and building up one another.