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The Paradox of Peace

by Michelle Moore

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”        John 14:27

2020, for many…maybe even most…has been a difficult year.  A year of unexpected pain, loss, confusion.  Maybe you have lost hope.  Maybe your faith has been stretched, challenged, tested and unbelief exposed.  Mine has been, I’ll be honest.  Some of you, knowing the pain, or some of it, that we have lived through this year, may say, “well, that’s to be expected or understood”  During this “Advent” season and the coming of a new year, we use words and talk about the ideas of love, hope, joy & peace, faith in the One who can calm the storms of nature and the storms of faith.

I have been pondering, meditating on Peace …. A word, an idea, that is most often used at Christmas, maybe through the turning of a new year, spoken to or over us during times of tragedy, trauma, printed on clothing that represents the ideology of a generation.  In each of these situations or seasons, peace means something completely different.

Even in the Word of God, there is a paradox of peace.  Yet, though the contradiction is present, there is Truth in the contradiction.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”        John 14:27

In Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah prophetically calls the not-yet-come Jesus, Prince of Peace.  Peace in this passage is the Hebrew word Shalom, meaning health, security, tranquility; a satisfied condition, an unconcerned state of peacefulness.  This “peace” is a state of being.

However, to the contrary, Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 10:34 & Luke 12:51, tells His disciples, tells us today, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  He is saying, “I did not come to bring rest from strife.  I did not come to end striving and fighting, here and now.”  Peace, in these verses, in most places throughout the New Testament, means rest; in contrast with strife; denoting the absence or end of strife.  Reading the Epistles, Peace is spoken as a greeting, a blessing, to say, “be at rest, my friend.”  Jesus, in these 2 verses, clearly says that He did not come to bring an end to striving and fighting, but to bring a sword.  The Prince of Peace (Is.9:6) did not come to bring peace to the world.  What??

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”        John 14:27

In Mark 4, we see the well-known, oft-told account of Jesus speaking to the storm, the waves, “Peace, be still !”  Jesus and the disciples have been walking for days. Jesus has healed all the sick and taught the multitudes.  Now, He wants to cross the lake; the same lake where He found & called Peter, Andrew, James & John to come follow Him.  It’s their lake…the one where they learned to fish and sail.  Jesus lays down to sleep while the guys do the work of getting to the other side.  Then the unexpected…a storm that is big enough that these men, the men who grew up on this lake, were afraid.  They woke Jesus….”don’t You care that we are dying?!”  Jesus speaks to the wind & waves, “Peace, be still”  The wind and waves stop….immediately.  Peace, here, means an involuntary silence, stillness.  Involuntary!  He commands nature to change course, to stop what it is doing.  I think He was also speaking to the hearts of the men with Him….Peace, be still.  Why do I think that?  Because He then asks the men, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”        John 14:27

If we continue reading in John 16:33, Jesus says, “…in Me, you will have peace, but in the world you will have tribulation”  How can that be that we live, simultaneously in tribulation and peace?  Tribulation and Rest, an absence of strife….???

Paul writes to the Romans, telling them that “..having been justified by faith, we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We have REST, an absence of strife, by our faith through Jesus, the Christ.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”        John 14:27

The Peace of God is not about our external circumstances or realities.  The earth is groaning and travailing with natural disasters, war, persecutions, genocides, sickness.  The whole world is watching to see what the outcome of the US election will be, how it will effect & affect them.  There is much to be concerned about.  There is much to pray over.  My heart has a hole in it.  Some days … most days….that hole feels like a gigantic black hole, sucking every other part of me in.  Yet, if I simply change my focus & settle my heart, there is a crazy, ridiculous, contradictory Peace at work in me.  I strive against it some days.  Some days, I just want to be angry; I want to demand answers and understanding; I want my version of justice and I want to negotiate with God for my obedience.

Peter was walking on water!!  Then the sight of the waves distracted him again and he began to sink.  His situation didn’t change.  Jesus didn’t take the time to explain what was happening.  Peter looked away and began to sink.

Peace is about perspective and perseverance.  My friend, Peace and grace be unto you!  May the Prince of Peace, Immanuel, be so present in your heart that Truth would conquer your reality.  Reality changes from moment to moment.  Truth is Truth always and He has given you His peace that you, that I, would be at rest in the tribulations of life.