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An Unworldly Peace

"The war to end all wars" was the idealistic term used for World War I. But it didn't work, and the warring goes on. Since World War I the world has witnessed major disruptions in world peace that include World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the ongoing unrest in the Middle East, and a world-wide war on tenor that shows no sign of letting up. We live in a warring world. Lloyd Cory was not far off the mark when he observed, "Peace is the brief, glorious moment in history when everyone stands around reloading." The war on tenor is fought mostly in far-away places, but the thought terrorists may attack here at home is never far from our minds. Peace is truly a rare commodity. Hostility seems to saturate human society. We wage a never-en ling war with crime, drugs, and violence. Families are often at war, engaging in a war of words that sometimes spills over into physical violence and abuse. The casualty in domestic wars is very often marriage itself— killed in a legal action called "divorce." Churches may witness war as interpersonal conflicts transform people in the pews from peacemakers to peace-breakers. Even the peace and sanctuary of the womb is not beyond the reach of violence as the lives of thousands of unborn but very human-babies are snuffed out each day, the victim of someone else's "right to choose." Turmoil and unrest goes on inside all of us to some degree in the form of worry and stress and troubled minds. Charles Schulz, creator of the "Peanuts" cartoon strips, spoke for many when he said, "I've developed a new philosophy — I only dread one day at a time." In one strip he had the cartoon character Charlie Brown say, "Sometimes you lie in a bed at night and you don't have a single thing to worry about. That always worries me!" Most of us never have to worry about not having anything to worry about. Even Jesus taught, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34). Add to all this the true to life words of the apostle Paul in Romans 7:23-24 where he talks about the tension that goes on inside his heart and soul — delighting in the law of God on one hand, but seeing "another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."

In the middle of all this, the Bible calls us to an "unworldly peace." Jesus described it in John 14:27, Literally hours before His betrayal, mockery, agonizing, and unjust death on the cross He told His troubled apostles, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Later, from a prison cell and facing an uncertain future, the apostle Paul counseled Christians at first century Philippi and 2lst century anywhere, to not worry but pray and be thankful so that "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). All of this must have been in Edward J. Bickersteth's mind when he penned these soul-soothing words in 1875 — "Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round: On Jesus' bosom nought but calm is found" (verse 3, Peace, Perfect Peace). It's not likely this war-tom world will ever see a total cessation of war. But thanks to Jesus Christ, each of us can experience an other-worldly peace. Here's hoping you are at peace with God, with others, and yourself.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ