The whole world is longing for peace. Disorder and war, however, prevail for the time being, while a Kingdom of Peace advances. This Kingdom is ushered in by Christ’s followers, who believe He is alive and will one day return to claim His bride, thus conquering death, war and pain forever.
As Christians, we are told in Galatians 5 to put away our evil desires and to live lives of righteousness, bearing fruit such as love, joy, perseverance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and… peace. This is my penultimate installment in my series covering these nine fruits, and in this column, I will be looking at peace.
If we, as Christians are to exist in, and uphold God’s Kingdom on earth, I believe it is imperative that we are able to overcome disorder and strife within our own domains as well as within ourselves.
“ What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” — James 4:1-3
The above admonishment was written 2 000 or so years ago by James, addressing the church – it would seem that the recipients of his letter were filled with inner turmoil and strife – the opposite of peace. Their outward quarrels originated from their inward desires to have what they could not have. We need to take heed of this today. If we desire to respond to God’s call to bring his message of peace to the brokenhearted, we need to show them that we are filled with inner peace, even if for now we live in a world at war.
If I had to simplify the concept of inner peace for myself, in order to better understand what I am aiming for, I would say that it is the absence of disorder – the absence of thoughts of jealousy, strife, anger and rage. I cannot guarantee that I will never have such thoughts, but I can practice putting aside these thoughts each time they rear their ugly heads, and rather choosing to ask the Holy Spirit to provide me with alternate options to acting on any of these feelings.
Better for me and better for those around me. As I banish disorder from my inner self, I can begin to really grasp what it means to be a Christian and to live according to God’s will for my life. Surely every aspect of our lives will be better when we are filled with peace? And surely those around us will recognise something alluringly different about one who lives within a world at war, yet seems so filled with peace?
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”