“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
We live in trying times. The current global pandemic is unprecedented in the experience of almost everyone living. It has brought numerous distinctive challenges upon us. State of emergency, nationwide lockdowns, travel bans, the closure of most public institutions, and dire economic repercussions due to this devastating virus—all these have become the norm for the immediate foreseeable future.
It has also severely hampered the Church’s ability to live out and witness to its calling as a community, at least in ways she is accustomed to. This, in turn, makes us hanker for peace and the courage to go forward and bear witness meaningfully.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only issue that confronts humanity. The global community has become increasingly fractured. The fault lines in society and community are ever widening over inequality in income and socioeconomic status, and due to the refusal to accommodate diversity in ethnicity and religion, differences in ideology and political affiliations, and so on.
In a world increasingly torn asunder, humanity craves peace. It craves for peace both among communities as well as among nations. It also craves peace internally.
The Peace That Christ Proffers
As we look for peace of mind and peace with and among others, who better to turn to than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Himself. In the passage from John’s Gospel, Jesus assured His disciples of a peace that is His own: ‘my peace I give unto you’.
The peace that the world offers is circumstantial. That is what many self-help books advise. Change the circumstances. Get rid of the distressing factor in your life. Run away. Quit. If you cannot get away, medicate, eat, check out. We are constantly told to look for ways to somehow find relief from the stressors and problems in our lives.
However, the peace that Christ proffers is altogether different and has nothing to do with circumstances. It passes understanding (Phil 4:7). For God is in control and loves us. But there is just one tiny rider—to walk in perfect peace, one must be in union with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit.
The Search for that Elusive Thing called World Peace
Humankind almost uniformly professes to desire peace. Throughout time, peace has been the object of countless works of philosophy, economics, political theory, art, etc. Indeed, virtually every academic discipline has attempted to develop a formula for peace.
However, the very idea of global peace is seemingly incongruous with geopolitics and the scramble for economic power among the nations, especially in the present century. The world seems perpetually on edge, and we are constantly bombarded with wartime rhetoric emanating from one world leader after another.
Hence, one could be forgiven for believing that an ideal such as world peace is not really attainable. Like personal peace, it also appears to be an elusive goal. Yet, we are a privileged lot in that we can find peace when we have Christ in our lives.
What all this Augurs for Christians
Studies in psychology apparently show that an untroubled mind very soon becomes stagnant and loses its creativity. For this reason, nature always leads us into challenging situations. This acts as a challenge for the mind. In rising to this challenge that is not unique to us as followers of Christ, we have a unique contribution to make.
The same Christ who assured His disciples brought peace when He came to us (cf. Eph. 2:14). He granted us peace with God the Father through His death on the Cross (cf. Rom. 5:1). World peace may be elusive for now, but it is possible to have peace within our hearts because of Christ.
And we can also spread this message of peace. As believers, we can share the Good News of this peace with God. In turn, this leads to peace within ourselves and peace among us. We can tell others of the peace that Christ gives. We can show them what it looks like through our words and actions. And the broken world we find ourselves in will eventually move towards healing on account of such words and actions. For then shall our hearts be neither troubled nor afraid.
John Lalnuntluanga is from Mizoram, India.
Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash