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Where peace is found

From the January 7, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Peace: Nations strive for it. Individuals yearn to feel it in their daily lives. Sometimes it appears fragile, other times elusive. Yet there is a foundation for peace stronger and more dependable than any societal system ever devised—it originates in God alone and is included in every element of our lives.

Perhaps nowhere is this spiritual basis of peace revealed more clearly than in the life of Christ Jesus. His thoughtful teachings and powerful healing career underscore the assurance he left his followers: “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). At first glance, Jesus’ encouraging words may appear to be simply a promise of serenity or tranquility in a troubled world, but the Bible shows us so much more.

The Old Testament Hebrew word for peace, shalom, “brings together into a wholeness the political, economic, social, and spiritual dimensions of life ... extends into an integral unity between heaven and earth,” and “is the salvation which embraces all creation” (Word Biblical Commentary, Psalms 72:3). The New Testament Greek word for peace, eirene, includes the concept of protecting or saving power, evidenced in Paul’s counsel that “the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, The New Testament in Modern English, J.B. Phillips).

This living peace was a calming and reassuring power thousands of years ago, and it can be felt clearly today. Peace is a life-enriching attribute of God. As with other such attributes—like mercy, justice, and grace—it permeates all aspects of being, and we can see evidences of it everywhere.

I love to look for and recognize this peace in what I call the everyday moments. For instance, when I observe what appears as thoughtless, rude, or even belligerent behavior, it helps to see that divine peace “embraces all creation.” It is an element of man’s birthright. As such, it is found within an individual. Think of it: God has fashioned within you and everyone “an integral unity between heaven and earth”—that is, a unity of our Creator’s thoughts and our own, of the Almighty’s affairs and ours! This unity is included in our identity and completeness. Holding to these ideas is a powerful enabler of poised, clear thinking. And a practical effect of this mental devotion is the ability to bring calm to tense situations.

I had an opportunity to practice these ideas recently. As I was walking to my bus stop, I heard shouting break through the pre-dawn stillness. I then saw a fellow commuter yelling at the bus driver at the top of his lungs. This bus had not showed up on time the day before, and its absence had evidently caused this man to be late for his job. Both he and I boarded the bus, where he continued loudly to berate the driver and the entire bus system, much to the shock of the other passengers. My first response was compassion for the driver, who had not even been on duty the day before. Then I felt compassion for the commuter, who I happened to know was a professional engineer and was facing family stresses at home.

In reaching out to God for inspiration that would reveal His peace for everyone, I was led to say a few calming words to the commuter. The next few moments were filled with a profound silence. The man’s face relaxed, he leaned back into his seat, and the tension on the bus disappeared. Some minutes later, I heard this man quietly utter the same words I had said. He left the bus offering a polite comment to the driver, who in turn replied pleasantly.

We can see peace as a powerful divine influence, even when circumstances appear challenging or bleak.

Peace operates in all areas of our lives, and because it keeps “constant guard,” it must be an active presence in every situation. It is not passive. This is contrary to the view that peace is simply a lack of conflict. Instead, we can see peace as a powerful divine influence, even when circumstances appear challenging or bleak. Understanding the affirmative nature of peace dispels disruptive thoughts underlying disorder, illness, or relationship problems. For example, right where contagious infections appear to be spreading, we can instead acknowledge that God’s positive influence in thought is powerful enough to destroy symptoms of sickness. This type of prayer has helped me in overcoming influenza, colds, and other ills. In fact, in practicing this approach, I have found my health and vitality markedly improved. It’s comforting to know that every challenge can be addressed with the recognition that peace encompasses all “dimensions of life.”

Praying daily with a clearer sense of peace has also helped me eliminate both conscious and latent fear. I have felt noticeably less worry about problems because of an expanded understanding of God’s active presence. In addition, an instinctive response of fear or stress to unexpected personal hardships or world events has been replaced with one of feeling our Father’s authority and government.

Sometimes during the day, I like to stop and think about how the peace I feel is the very same promised by Jesus and felt by Paul and other biblical heroes. This realization makes the Bible and its teachings more real and practical. It has also led me to appreciate the spiritual power that accompanies peace. Divine power reveals itself as we strive to look beyond the clamoring problems of daily life and claim God’s jurisdiction in all instances, even those that seem stressful or imposing. Actively maintaining this mental standpoint is a heartfelt prayer of peace. As Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, points out, “For man to know Life as it is, namely God, the eternal good, gives him not merely a sense of existence, but an accompanying consciousness of spiritual power that subordinates matter and destroys sin, disease, and death” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 189).

The word power originates from a Latin root meaning “to be able.” Inherently, then, the strength that Life includes within all creation makes us capable of facing and overcoming all hardships. Gaining a clearer perspective of this tranquil power, we conclude that spiritual might not only enforces peace, but also impels its expression. As we understand how spiritual peace powerfully permeates individual lives, we can expect healings of hostility worldwide. These result from the divine authority that destroys fear, danger, lack, or other threats to security.

Some would say that we are living a chaotic existence or even struggling to survive. An awareness of spiritually empowered peace shifts our perspective to one of perceiving the ongoing unfoldment of infinite good. This shift enables us to see that wherever our path leads, God is already there welcoming us and providing the strength and poise needed to succeed. Along the way, we learn lessons that open up new spiritual frontiers. We make practical Jesus’ promise of peace that lifts us above trouble and fear—not because we find pockets of calm in a turbulent society, but because we steadily discern that life is firmly founded on a spiritual basis. God becomes more real to us because we feel His influence more consistently in our daily lives.

Jesus promised the presence of God’s peace because he felt the peace of God’s presence, and so can we. Consciously acknowledging the certainty of God-originated peace and power, we think and act more confidently. Living this conviction, we increasingly experience the well-being that Life ordains for each of us.

Andy Remec lives with his wife in Walnut Creek, California.

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