When one thinks of living in peace, it’s easy to picture a world without conflict.
Imagine for a moment having just one day without seeing the horrific scenes of violence betrayed on the innocent. What would it be like if we could avoid seeing ravenous bodies of starving children, or watching shocking scenes of another school shooting taking place before our eyes?
It’s possible for me to turn off the television, avoid listening to the radio or reading the newspapers. I could even take a fast from social media and sit in my backyard; isolated with nothing but the sound of wind blowing through the leaves of trees, and birds singing.
As tranquil and inviting as my backyard may be, my world – and your world – has a lot of conflicts.
A few years ago I had the privilege of traveling in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, a region of our world known for conflict. What struck me was the standard greeting offered to me from strangers: “Shalom Alekem” (“peace upon you”).
Although the greeting commonly is translated as “good day,” it voices a desire for one to be well, whole, complete; to have all the physical and spiritual resources sufficient to meet one’s needs.
To disengage from a strife-torn world from time-to-time is not only attractive – it’s necessary to discover and enjoy peace. Observing nature re-connects us with beauty; a quality easily eclipsed by trouble. It’s critical that we refresh ourselves physically and spiritually to sustain us.
However, the benefit of solitude is not to isolate us from conflict, but to refresh us so we can return to our strife-filled world, whole and complete – expressions of peace to others.
Jesus, admonishing his disciples who were living in a conflict-filled world, addresses their hardship (John 16:25-33). In his discourse he reminds them (and us): “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
Although I may not be mindful of the conflict you may be facing today, I am aware that the source of peace in a conflict-filled-world continues to be discovered in Jesus.
Perhaps it would do each of us good to disengage from our conflict so that we can re-engage physically and spiritually refreshed.