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Rev Yvonne McRostie. Photo: Supplied

What it really means to be at peace

Peacemaking … Peace … Shalom … Breathe in … Breath out … Be still and know that I am God.

I’m sitting quietly in my sister’s beautiful garden listening to the sound of the birds melting into my daily devotion being read to me from the app on my iPhone. 

Life is good—nature, beauty, family, prayer—I am at peace. Well, except for those nagging reminders of what’s on my ever growing “to do” list and the state of the world; except for those annoying voices of self-loathing guilt at not doing enough about the state of the world; except for those justified judgemental thoughts about the state of the world, some people should know better and I am right and they are wrong.

What does it really mean to be at peace, to be a peacemaker as disciples of Jesus? Where does our peace come from?

Our story teaches us that Jesus is peace—the prophets foretold Jesus as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and Jesus would be our peace (Micah 5:2-5) and Paul tells the church in Ephesus that Jesus is our peace who breaks down every wall and the hostility between us (Ephesus 2:14-15). 

Central to Jesus’ teaching, as recorded in the gospels, is a clear message of reconciliation, forgiveness and self-examination—what logs we have in our own eyes. Jesus’ living example of healing the sick, loving the marginalised, forgiving the sinners and feeding the hungry shows us that a disciple of Jesus is a peacemaker. 

Now before your mind heads off to an image of that hippie type of peace, flowers in your hair, Kumbaya singing, dancing naked in the daisy field … Jesus’ example peace is radical—it disturbs the comfortable, attacks religious corruption, challenges the status quo and it comes from a pure heart. It may even disturb and disrupt us!

In Luke 23, Jesus, in his deepest suffering on the cross, asks, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Do we always know what we are doing? Jesus told his disciples that he promised to bring peace but the peace he gives is not of this world. (John 14:27)

There have been so many examples of misunderstood prophetic voices throughout history that have led the way for a non-violent, peaceful approach to changing the world and in hindsight we rejoice in their bold stands and courage. So as a community of Christ, people who claim to live as disciples of Jesus, we are promised peace, not that the world gives, a gift of peace so that in our lives we would give witness to God, in the way we live as a community together. 

This does call us to self-examine the source of our intention for peace, personally and as congregations, schools and agencies. Where does our desire for peace come from? When we receive this free gift of peace, not of this world, how then shall we live? So take a moment, sit and ponder, breathe in and out, be still and know that I am God. 

Shalom be with you.

Rev Yvonne McRostie
Presbytery Minister, The Downs Presbytery

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