Philippians 2:1-2: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”

We recognize an auto immune disease when a body’s immune system goes bonkers and starts attacking and damaging its own tissues. We also recognize a family is in deep trouble when family members won’t stop hurting each other. We all need unity and peace. Our bodies can’t function without it. Societies can’t function without it.

The source of all peace, Jesus, aka the Prince of Peace, will help us pursue unity and turn us into peacemakers. Speaking of making peace: what about ending war? Wouldn’t it behoove the Prince of Peace to eliminate global warfare? Curiously, ending military conflicts has never been first on His agenda – His peace movement will eventually lead to that, but first and foremost Jesus is interested in bringing peace to the human soul. Wherever we are, whoever we are, His peace offer stands – if He finds you knocking on Heaven’s door, He will open it wide and let you in.

In the 66 books of the Bible peace is mentioned 249 times. Today’s world is riddled with friction, and this is probably the reason why the Bible emphasizes our need for peace. A disciple whom Jesus nicknamed Peter wrote in one of his letters (1 Peter 3:8):

“Finally all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.”

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a recipe for peace! According to Peter’s recommendations, here are its listed ingredients:

  • Be of one mind – to be on the same page with another person requires a lot of communication. Do not take anything for granted. Ask questions to clarify, and explain your own thought process.
  • Sympathize – walking in someone else’s shoes is generally an eye opener.
  • Love – treat every person with respect.
  • Be tenderhearted – empathy goes a long way and is a blessing for anybody facing life’s rough patches.
  • Be humble – humility brings people together; pride on the other hand represents a major stumbling block on our road to peace. Remain curious what others have to say, validate people’s input.

Agreement, consensus, and harmony by no means come easy; we need a lot of help! But even if we end up agreeing to disagree, at least we show some respect for the difference in point of view without ridiculing each other. That’s what peacemakers do. We’re golden in God’s eyes if we live by those standards. So, as the coming days unfold, above all: let’s all stay gold!

Life is but a twinkling of an eye
Yet filled with sorrow and compassion
Though not imagined, all things that happen
Will age to old, though gold!  
                                (Stevie Wonder)

Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

I have started praying ever since I knew that God exists, and I am happy to report that He has taken good care of me. There is really no reason to worry when we trust in God.

The Scriptures have become my lifeline in that they appear to me like corrective lenses through which I can view the Big Three more clearly: God, humanity, and the world; and they help me understand how best to relate to the Big Three. One of the many ways God has sided with us is using our language. We can literally discover Him when we open the Bible and start reading.

God communicates. God breathes His Spirit through His Word. God’s Word brings life. God spoke the universe into existence and He also speaks life over our dead human spirit. He wants to revive us. That’s the spiritual reality which offers an amazing opportunity, a wide open door for every person on this planet.

When after His resurrection Jesus entered the room where His followers were hiding He came with peace. “Peace be with you!” He said. His presence immediately turned everything around. Jesus still has this effect on people. He currently prays for you and me; and peace is what He speaks over our anxious souls.

The peace of God is balm for our souls. His peace makes everything better, even in the worst of circumstances. It’s a peace that no one can explain intelligibly. God just is and so is His peace. We will find peace in His presence simply because we belong with Him. We all came from God. Our souls inside us know that, and our souls long to return. We need to follow the prodding of our souls. Returning to God closes the cycle and makes everything complete. That’s the secret of God’s peace.

Colossians 3:15: “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

If God’s peace is like a river, I want that river to take me wherever it leads, and in peace go wherever the Lord sends me.

Here is an aspect of God’s peace: We are called to live in peace with one another as opposed to being divided in hatred and strife; we are called to respect and appreciate our differences as opposed to being hostile and resistant to anybody who’s different from us.

Actually, if it makes sense to not put God in a box, neither do people belong in one. Let’s rather celebrate our differences instead of getting upset. This is a good rule of thumb that can be applied to any situation where we don’t have the same outlook on life. What if we don’t share the same political opinion? Praise the Lord for a wide variety of viewpoints!

How boring would the world be if we agreed on everything? Praise the Lord for open-mindedness! Could you imagine where we would be without curious and exploring people questioning the status quo? Let’s be thankful for those questions, thankful for conflict arising out of these questions and thankful to God who guides us through the mystery and gives us peace in the midst of the unknown.

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew

Psalm 118:5-6: “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

What can people do to us? A whole lot! People can uplift us, encourage us, but they can also mislead us, shame us, and even destroy us if we let them. People influence people, and no one is immune to that.

On the other hand, however hard we try, we can’t be alone either. God created us a human society; whether we like it or not, we need to learn how to live well with one another.

The key is prayer. When everything is said and done, ultimately not our smart minds move the world; it’s our heartfelt prayers that move it. God is the heartbeat of human history. He’s the provider of peace in the middle of a crisis and redemption in the most unfavorable of circumstances.

“Deep peace of the running wave to you. Deep peace of the flowing air to you. Deep peace of the quiet earth to you. Deep peace of the shining stars to you. Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.” (Irish Blessing)

“Deep peace of the running wave to you. Deep peace of the flowing air to you. Deep peace of the quiet earth to you. Deep peace of the shining stars to you. Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.” (Irish Blessing)

Isaiah 9:6: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The words of Prophet Isaiah ring in many people’s ears these days thanks to an oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frederic Handel, titled “Messiah”, with scriptural reference to Isaiah 9:6:

“Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”

Especially when going through troubled times, God’s peace will carry us through. Nevertheless – and this might come as a surprise – His peace can be quite controversial! Opposition was predicted to Mary and Joseph when Jesus was but a few days old.

It happened when Mary and Joseph brought their firstborn to the Jerusalem temple to be circumcised. Suddenly, a stranger approached them.  The stranger’s name was Simeon.  He asked Mary if he could hold the baby, and with Jesus in his arms he began to prophesy.  He exclaimed: “Now I can die a happy man because I have seen the One who saves, the light to reveal God to the nations!”  Before he handed the baby back to Mary he said (Luke 2:34):

“This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise.  He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him.”

Many years later, Jesus entered the same temple to cause quite an uproar. His follower Matthew wrote about the event in his gospel (Matthew 21:12):

“Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.” 

When people began questioning Jesus’ behavior He simply stated (Matthew 21:13):

“The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

The humble Messiah entering Jerusalem on a donkey is causing a ruckus in the temple!  How does this add up? I believe, it all goes back to the temple of our hearts.

If Peace was a coin it would have “Accept” on one side and “Reject” on the other. Taking this coin at face value means to accept peace.  Judging this coin to be a fake currency means to reject peace.  Opposition arises from these two opposing views.  The good news is that we can have tremendous peace if we accept Jesus’ peace terms.  The bad news is that we will experience a personal roller-coaster if we don’t.

Jesus’ parting words to His followers were (John 14:27):

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Having turned our affairs over to Jesus the Messiah, we have made peace with ourselves first before passing it on. Peace on earth is a revolution from within and begins in the temple of our hearts.

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If life had a name, then I’m sure its middle name would be Trouble with a capital T. First and last name? Constant Change! And we can get overwhelmed; we can get stuck; we can get overly attached; we can get numb; we can get depressed;  we can get sweetened or hardened dealing with whatever life throws at us. Note that our hearts are fragile. We need to take good care of our hearts, or else we’ll be overcome by life’s middle name.

How we handle trouble is similar to digestion. Food is worthless and can actually kill us if our bowels refuse to work and our whole digestive system shuts down. Food has to be processed to be of any value. So does life. We need to take time to process life’s events, especially life changing events.

Allow yourself a break when lots of things happen, when we arrive at a crossroad; when changes come our way, when we feel pushed in a corner, when we feel powerless, when we feel angry, especially when we feel defeated and don’t see a way out of a situation. All of that are sure indicators that we need a Time Out.

Jesus spoke words of life into everybody’s struggle when He said:

  • “Take heart!”

We need to take our hearts seriously. The best favor we can do to ourselves is to reconnect with our Creator.

Jesus said:

  • “I have overcome the world”.

Knowing and believing that Jesus can work through every issue with us will guard our hearts from descending into desperation. Jesus added:

  • “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”

The most precious ointment on a wounded and broken heart is the ointment of peace: the peace of knowing everything is going to be alright; the peace of knowing that God cares; the peace of knowing we are not alone; the peace of realizing that God is near; the peace of knowing we are being carried.

In all troubling matters, we need to cut through the chase and go to the source of the problem to gain clarity.  In matters of peace we too find a source. Jesus can connect us to peace because He is the source of peace. Before His death He told His followers (John 14:27):

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

“Peace be with you” is not an empty wish of His. It’s quite real. And Jesus wants to lay it on us. He makes us an offer that we can refuse, but we are infinitely better off accepting the precious peace He has for us. Take it from the One who knows you best, and let His peace reign in your heart and soul!

Matthew 26:52: “‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’”

Wer Feuer frißt, scheißt Funken. Literally – He who eats fire s**ts sparks. A masterpiece of German idiomatic art! It’s a warning – he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

If you can imagine a world not run by military power, then you can imagine God’s kingdom and what Jesus stands for. “But how else are we supposed to protect ourselves from a world infected by evil?” is the question of the day. Well, we’ve tried that approach ever since Adam left Eden, and it never intimidated evil or eliminated it. If anything, the cancer of evil has grown exponentially and infiltrated the entire fabric of human life. We’re hooked on the defense system, and it will take a revolution to change that, a revolution instigated by God Himself.

We all live in countries with a defense mechanism. We all witness violence, and we all are prone to use violence. The non-violent approach on the other hand is foreign to us. The way Jesus submitted to the Roman authorities set a precedent for all God’s children around the world. Jesus introduced us to a new chapter in the history of mankind, also illustrated in the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah described the future of mankind like this (Isaiah 2:4):

“He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.”

The non-violent approach in our day-to-day lives will eliminate our all-too-common anxieties of having to defend ourselves. What do we have to lose? We don’t have to prove anything, and we don’t have to be right. If we speak up, it doesn’t matter if people agree or disagree, listen to us or ignore us. We might have something to say, but actually, so does the person next to us. So, before speaking up it would behoove us to listen first. By doing so, we show some respect. Have you ever noticed that listening goes a long way towards developing empathy? It turns enemies into human beings. We also appear more credible in any dispute if we hear our opponents out before putting in our own two cents. Jesus always listened before He talked, and He touched many people that way.

Can you see that with this kind of attitude it’s pretty hard to imagine advancing any cause, even a good one, at gunpoint?

So what if the ultimate evil happens and our very lives are in danger?  – Even though it’s very counter-intuitive, weaponry is still not the answer. It never was. Jesus demonstrated it. So did His followers. The Jesus movement has been opposed ever since its inception by being ignored, openly ridiculed, violently cut down, all to imply that the way of Jesus has no future and neither have God’s children – and yet the opposite is true: God’s children carry our future. What is considered unrealistic and impossible will be a “dream-come-true” one day. There will be a world without weapons. There will be a world not built on blood-shed and power abuse; instead God’s world will be built entirely on love; fact of the matter is that love completely overrides evil and is much more efficient than all our sophisticated weaponry combined.

Instead of self-defense, all our capacities and resources are used for life and growth in God’s Kingdom. As soon as we live according to the principles of life and love, God’s Kingdom sprouts and spreads. Looking around us, we may detect the beginnings of God’s kingdom right here, in front of our doorsteps. We too can jump on that bandwagon and become part of His kingdom today. There’s only one catch: Yes, you’ve guessed it: We have to let go of that sword!

“Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth”      George Harrison