Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
I believe we are all touched by the word “Peace”, at least in the context of modern western society.
I am confident that “peace” is a universal human concept, that potentially has great depth.
“Peace” or “Shalom” is a well recognized greeting or parting word, in a number of cultures.
If nothing else, to me this implies that we are prone to aggression, and approaching an unfamiliar person or group of people may not be peaceful. And certainly, approaching an enemy in times of war would not be peaceful.
So how is it that Jesus could be the Lord, or Prince of peace?
What authority and power does this imply and what are the makings of this peace?
If I look at a worldly understanding of great authority, for example a dictator, even a benevolent ruler, the peace that appears to exist under that persons authority may be due to unwavering discipline, with painful penalties. Mercy may be lacking.
Even accidental breaking of rules may be met with swift judgement and painful consequences including the execution and removal of a law breaker. This may allow the kingdom or community at large to continue “peacefully” but does not give peace to the law breaker. Justice may well be served, and the country or kingdoms may have a reputation of safety and law abiding citizens but there may also be high levels of fear, anxiety, lack of self expression, dissatisfaction and as a result, low levels of joy and emotional or inward peace.
In our society, though there is the freedom of expression and religion, etc, there are still high levels of fear and anxiety and other mental illness which interfere with our experience of peace, not to mention the relatively low penalties for even serious crimes, allowing, in some places, unpredicted/unexpected violence.
Even in nature, on a perfect day, a swim in the ocean may be anxiety provoking for those of us with thoughts about sharks.
Although the Peace of God applies to every situation, my discussion is more about inter-relational peace.
Reconciliation can produce a true peace for all involved. One that allows the conscience to rest, and sweet sleep to occur at night. But reconciliation requires cooperation from offended opposing parties. Opposition is sometimes passed on generation after generation, becoming a marker of that group of people, never to be questioned, even beyond reason.
So reconciliation is not easily achieved, and often tentative, and conditional, with no real love exchanged.
I believe Jesus is Lord of peace because he himself has borne the weight of our sin and reconciled the world to himself and himself to the world.
On the cross.
This occurred independently and even despite the lack of cooperation amongst the wounded parties. That is, fallen, rebellious mankind vs God.
This is worth meditating on.
I believe this implies that every ripple of disturbance of the deep peace of holiness is fully resolved in every sense, including issues of justice, and morality, in and on the cross.
By the cross I mean, the willing suffering, death and resurrection of the pure innocent spotless Lamb of God; Jesus our Lord.
This victory has achieved everlasting peace for every situation, every prick of conscience and every anxiety, it also applies to situations of uncertainty in nature and society, where we are still in the presence of God, even if we are walking in the shadows of the valley of death.
Therefore we trust in Jesus, the Lord of Peace.
A friend recently explained that he prays for humiliation.
I found this confronting, but it has been a good consideration in my dealing with daily issues where my pride, along with Satan’s schemes, try to take away the reality and experience of the powerful peace of God.
Paul’s prayer and blessing for the Thessalonians is a powerful one, only because it states the truth, in faith.
And we are blessed as we are once again, spoken to by the Holy Spirit, in the gentle discomfort of humility, to bask in the ocean of peace that is the presence of our Lord.