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.–John 14:27
The world offers to sell us peace in many ways. Financial coaches urge us to earn a lot of money, invest it lucratively and have peace of mind knowing that we will never suffer want. Politicians urge us to increase our country’s arsenal and rest assured that we will be left in peace because no one will dare to provoke us. Demagogues, whether political, social or religious, urge us to leave off trying to think critically, to trust them and buy into their programs and have peace through freedom from doubt.
Obviously this kind of peace comes to pieces when the economy collapses and our investments lose value, when our country’s enemies become angry and desperate enough to launch attacks on us even knowing that we will take revenge, when the demagogues become the subjects of scandals and lose their credibility. Even without such crises, this peace isn’t real peace. If we rely on the world to sell us peace we will always feel the need to buy more. Americans at many income levels say that if they just earned a little more money they’d be financially secure. Military leaders always say we need a few more weapons programs to make sure we stay ahead of all our possible enemies. Demagogues denounce each other and compete for our trust. Our minds stay troubled.
Jesus’ peace works differently. He offers his peace to his disciples knowing that his life on earth is almost over; that one disciple will betray him and another will deny him; that all those whom he loves face lives of hard work, loneliness, uncertainty and danger. But Jesus also knows, also that he is going back to the Father. Whatever he and his followers lose in this world, they are not lost or abandoned by God. And he has taught them to live in a way that embodies God’s love and God’s kingdom in this world. What more can they need? What more can we need?
Let us follow Jesus’ teaching and example as well as we can understand it. Let us lay aside our fears and our false self-made safeties and enter into Jesus’ peace.