What is peace?
Is peace the absence of conflict? Sure. But is that all it is? No. Is that even the best type of peace? I don’t think so. That’s defining peace based on conflict or violence. That’s assuming that conflict and violence are the norm from which we define other things. The world may define peace in that way, but I don’t think that’s how God defines peace.
I think God’s version of peace is different. I think God’s peace starts as the foundation. In a sense, conflict or violence can be defined as the absence of peace. There’s a difference in this. Peace isn’t dependent on conflict or violence for its definition. In this way, peace is the assumed norm and conflict and violence are the abnormal things.
So what does this peace look like? I think it looks like community. I think it looks like people who trust one another, are vulnerable with one another, are loving towards one another. Does this mean there isn’t ever conflict. Hardly. There are still people involved. And when people are involved, conflict will happen. But then again, not all conflict is bad. When conflict turns to violence, that’s not so good.
Jesus talks about peace. He offers peace to people he visits. He declares peace to many people. He sends the disciples out in peace and tells them to share peace with those they meet. He leaves peace with people when he goes.
Peace is hard work. It’s not easy. Conflict and violence are easy. They require no imagination, no vulnerability, no intelligence. They only require a reaction. Conflict and violence are mostly oriented towards a consideration of what is best for the self. Peace on the other hand is usually oriented towards what is best for all involved. That’s because what is good for all is also good for me as well. Maybe not in the short term, but in the longer term that is usually the case. Sometimes we must give up the short term gain in order to obtain the bigger, and more important, long term gain.
Peace is not a destination. The world sees peace as a mythical destination. But the problem with that is that we never arrive, or get close to it. There’s always something that prevents us from arriving. Always. When peace is a destination, then it is associated with the ends justify the means ways of thinking, which is not peace filled.
Instead peace is a ways of being. It is the means and the end. Peace is the pattern of life. It is how we live, or rather are called to live. Jesus exemplified this, as we already talked about. Throughout Scripture, he is always offering peace and leaving peace with people. He lived peace with all around him. Peace wasn’t passive for him. It wasn’t weak. It was intentional. And transformative.
And that’s how we are to live. In transformative peace to share with all around us. Peace is like the pebble dropped in the water. It ripples to all those around and transforms lives. And the world. That’s what peace is.