I have seen some pretty amazing fights break out during the time shortly after the death of a loved one–many times it involves who gets the stuff left behind. It’s too bad, really! I don’t know whether there will be much inheritance from my mother if she ever passes away. At this point, I sometimes wonder whether she will outlive me. If she does pass before me, I will have to split the inheritance with 3 brothers and a sister. So, it’s hard to imagine that any inheritance would be large enough to change my lifestyle. So, I don’t think about it too much. All this is assuming she doesn’t disown me at some time in the future!
Jesus left an inheritance to us through the disciples and the Holy Spirit. He said, “My peace, I give to you.” If we were using our standard to measure peace (absence of strife), we probably would assume they missed it somehow. Maybe they weren’t there at the reading of the will. Most of them, if not all, were persecuted and martyred for following Jesus. Do we need to look again at the translation? Maybe Jesus meant something different.
We know Jesus was interested in peace by the number of times He talked about it. Also, He is described as the “Prince of Peace.” He even explicitly shows his interest in the next beatitude.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they should be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9)
Maybe Martin Luther King Jr., a peace advocate, can help us out. He once said,
“True peace is not the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”
I have always said peace is the presence of God. Peace can be found in the most un-peaceful situations. Throughout history, man has tried to build walls to create peace. We assume if we could block out all the ugly or evil or noise, then we would have peace. I think history teaches us that often it is the wall that is bringing the hostility. Paul said that Christ brings down the “dividing wall of hostility.” The most visible example in our time would be when Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandonburg Gate and said, “The advance of human of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of peace.” He later made the famous exclamation, “”Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
Brian Zhand, in Beauty Will Save the World, says this beatitude reminds us we are children of God working in the family business. Jesus was a peacemaker—and we should be to. It’s not enough to think about peace. It’s not enough to talk about peace. We have to be MAKERS of peace.
I can think of a few was that we make peace!
We must make peace with our past.
Yesterday is a check that we already cashed. A friend recently reminded me that we did the best we could with the resources we had at the time. No matter how much we regret our choices, we can’t change what happened in the past. However, we can negatively affect the present by lingering in the past.
We must make peace with ourselves.
“If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.” Marvin Gaye
I think we spend a good portion of our lives trying to create situations. We long to manipulate our environment enough to give us the results we desire. Often what we control doesn’t make our world any safer, but only brings us more anxiety—not to mention, we slowly cease to live life while trying to control it. I suspect peace is something of a decision. If we want, we can choose to be happy. Call it joy or whatever sounds more holy, but I think peace is a choice. We can be content and we can be at peace if we really want to. Remember that beatitude a few lines up that said we could be satisfied if we just got a little hungrier for justice. Maybe King was right.
We must make peace with our enemies.
“People are hard to hate close-up. Move in.” Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness
Violence, hatred and bitterness have never achieved peace. They make us feel good for an instant but it’s just an artificial high that won’t last. We can’t allow ourselves to be reactive—we must be proactive. Peter said that we must “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11).
Peace is a decision and it is a Jesus idea. We are very creative at separating Jesus from His ideas. We like to recreate Him in our own image. Just like Jesus was very consistent in His message of non-violence, He was also consistent with the peace message.
It is important that we accept the inheritance of peace that Jesus left us. Once accepted, we can make peace with our past, make peace with ourselves and make peace with others.
It truly is a decision.