The peace in your hands

September 21, 2020 · Print This Article

Today, is a day of peace. The UN’s International Day of Peace, in fact. But what’s this got to do with you?

Established in 1945, after the near-total destruction of the civilised world, one of the UN’s fundamental purposes was to keep peace throughout the world – to stop conflict. Indeed, the UN General Assembly unanimously voted this 24-hour period to be one of “non-violence and cease-fire.” The agreement to lay down arms is certainly a way to peace.

But is true peace an external reality? Is real peace just no bullets or bombs?

‘Shaping Peace Together’ is this year’s theme. We are told to celebrate today by “spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the pandemic”[1]. This is where peace can sometimes be ironic: enemies often unite when there’s a greater enemy! That’s the selfish nature of the beast. This year, the pandemic has meant politicians, nations and people who would not always be on each other’s Christmas card list have had to pull together for their collective prosperity and survival.

A common enemy has been one of the driving factors in last week’s historic Middle East peace deal. The significance of two Arab gulf states – the UAE and Bahrain – signing an agreement to normalise their relationships with the State of Israel cannot be overestimated. But the accord is one that helps protect all states against the major regional threat of Iran. Interestingly, the first direct flight from Israel to the UAE, symbolising this agreement, had the word “peace” written on the plane in English, Hebrew and Arabic. A moment Jared Kushner called, “A new script for a new Middle East.”

The promise of protection from an enemy and increased trade is a way to peace. But is there a more sustainable, lasting way to peace out there?

Maybe to achieve a true script for peace we first have to understand the script of war and conflict. I once read a script about the reason why war and conflict exist which suggested peace and war are in fact internal realities first and foremost. “Where do wars and fights come from among you?”, one biblical writer asks, “Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”[2] I can’t say I understand all this is getting at but to me it suggests real peace is more about the individual than the collective. More about the internal than the external. Less about agreements between governments and more about agreements with yourself.

This echoes a truth that almost all religions and philosophies understand, that war and peace begin from within each of us. And the human heart has a great deal of trouble gaining, and more importantly, maintaining that peace.

So how do we win the war in our members?

This is where the Hebrew word for peace “shalom” can help us. There is more to it than meets the eye. This word does not just mean the cessation of conflict but the internal wholeness and well-being of an individual. It is from this completeness and soundness of mind that peace can be cultivated. So where do we get this kind of shalom?

Hebrew was the language used to write the majority of the Bible. And it is from the theological development of these Scriptures that suggest that this special peace is offered by God, through a relationship with Jesus – he makes us a more complete, contented person. If you want to know more about this peace, then we’d love to hear from you.

Richard Fowler

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[2] The Bible, James 4:1-3
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