Everyone looks for peace. People look for it in different places. Everyone wants peace. The only people who abandon that search are convinced they cannot have it. Because of this conclusion, they settle for forms of temporary escape from the moment's struggles.

For what is everyone looking? Because "peace" is one word, many are convinced that everyone looks for the same thing. That conviction deceives. It is not unusual for people's concepts of peace to differ radically.

Some people's concept of peace is focused on "me." "Peace is having no one hassling me about anything--including my wife, my husband, my children, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my neighbors, my friends, my boss, or my fellow workers." Peace is having the freedom that permits "me" to do anything "I" want to do without others bothering "me."

Some people's concept of peace focuses on needs. "I never am caught up! My husband needs too much! My wife needs too much! My kids need too much! Everyone who impacts my life needs too much! For me, peace would be escaping all these needs!"

Concepts of peace multiply: the absence of conflict; the absence of violence; the absence of grief; the absence of guilt; forgetting the past; not fearing the future; escaping sickness; eliminating conflict between the important people in my life; significantly reducing hate, greed, and inhuman treatment of others in our society or our world; etc.

All these concepts of peace frequently share a common denominator. This is the concept: peace is the absence of struggle. Our definitions of struggle vary greatly. Often peace destroys or resolves the source of our struggles.

Were I to form a list of Bible people who had peace, high on that list would be Jesus and Paul. I use them now because of their contrast. Jesus experienced the struggles produced by his disciples' small faith, the Pharisees' opposition, people's poor focus on life, misrepresentations, and temptation. His death was violent, misunderstood, and lonely.

Paul's pre-Christian past was horrible. His post-Christian reality was filled with conflict and danger. Often those who benefited most from his sacrifices caused his greatest grief.

Yet, each man had an enormous sense of personal peace. How could they endure such struggle and have such peace? Simple -- peace is not the absence of struggle. Peace is found in an eternal relationship with God that gives life an indestructible meaning. In God, you gain identity. In God, you live for eternal values. That is peace's foundation.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 30 June 2002

 Link to next article

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell