Peace. Been thinking about it all week. Maybe you have too.
It is such a loaded word though. It has many different meanings depending on the situation. Peace for some is the absence of violence. For others, it’s that moment of serenity and silence. In the yoga class that I drop-in, I think it means to lay still, forget about your to-do list, and meditate on your intention. And focus on your breathing, it’s always about your breathing.
In those ways, peace feels wonderful, but it also feels a bit like a luxury. Is peace just for the privileged, or for those that can secure the borders of their lives, for those strong in their mental health and their downward dog? And for those mindful of their breathing (always the breathing).
As a pastor and here, as a blogger, I encourage you to consider that maybe peace is bigger than non-violence, silence, serenity and stillness. What if peace was more than that, and not just for the elite, or for those that can procure it? What if it was for everyone? What if peace was more about what it means to live in a just, a rightly-ordered world that was charged with love, beauty, and creativity?
So if God’s justice is a picture of how all things are supposed to be, perhaps God’s peace is the confidence and joy we receive from that Shalom. What if peace was basking in God’s goodness?
When Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, I think it means much more than we typically give it credit for. To change the synonyms around (but to keep the alliteration for fun), being the Prince of Peace is more than being the Sultan of Stillness, or the Caesar of Silence, or the Torchbearer of Treaties. The Prince of Peace promises to bring even more.
What inspires me about peace is the idea of the confidence one can have for the vision of God’s Shalom. This is the picture of how all things are supposed to be. I’m tempted to say something like, “peace is the secret sauce” of what makes heaven actually be “heaven” but I pushed it a little bit with the alteration. And two, that’s simply not correct. Heaven is “heaven” because being of God’s full presence. Peace is more like the oxygen we get to breath in the presence of God.
Every paradise we imagine eventually breaks down because your paradise always rotates around you. And your pardise would likely disappoint me. I bet it would disappoint you after a while too. Please take no offense because I also know my paradise would disappoint you as well. It’s not intentional, it’s what’s missing when heaven doesn’t revolve around God and revolves around self. Here our visions of heaven fall short and so does our understanding our peace.
It’s why I like to encourage people to consider that peace is bigger than non-violence. Don’t get me wrong, I would be thrilled with a world that chose not to harm one another, that would be a vast improvement. If you give me the choice between this one and that one, I’d ask for the fine print and do my due diligence, but pretty sure I’m going to choose the non-violent world. But if God is promising me something even better, then why move twice? And to intentionally mix the metaphor to make my real point – Why not pursue the better vision of peace over the lesser, incomplete one?
What I think our souls crave is not just to live in a space without harm but to live in one that loved each other (For those interest, I unpack that a bit more in earlier posts). Peace is not the same as non-violence. That’s a great result. Nor is it the same as silence and stillness – those are among the vehicles we ought to use to pursue peace. Peace is more and I’ll do my best to unpack that in future posts.
Til the next time, what if when you meditate on peace, you imagine that it’s even more than what the world has said about it? But don’t forget about the breathing, the breathing.