To attain peace, not only must we seek it, but we must be willing to choose and accept it. Like faith, peace is something we must choose every day, sometimes every hour. Yet what kind of peace do we seek? Do we seek a peace only for the time being, for this place, or for a peace that will extend beyond this life? Which would grant us greater satisfaction and serenity, a peace for this world or a peace for the world to come? What would it take to attain a peace both for this life and the life to come, a peace bridging life and death?
To answer these questions, we need to know what peace really means. Peace means harmonious connection with something or someone, including with oneself. Interestingly, the root of the word “peace” means “to fasten,” or “to confirm an agreement.” Thus, connection is at the heart of peace; peace always includes a “with” of association – or there is no peace. That is, peace has to do with the state which can exist between two or more entities, including our relationship with ourselves, for we do have a unique kind of relationship with ourselves. Peace is essentially a relational reality, goal and end.
The peace of Christ comes from having a direct faith connection with our resurrected Lord, who is still and always with us in the Spirit. Christ’s peace is a sheer gift of God to be received by faith, never to be earned or deserved by our merits or goodness.
Christ’s peace comes in three layers. First, Christ’s spiritual presence grants us an immediate assurance that all is already well eternally, a faith knowledge that we shall never die but be transformed to be with Christ in paradise, and an unshakable conviction of an endless unity with Christ.
The second layer of the peace of Christ is the assurance, also granted directly through Christ’s presence, that He has always been with us and will remain with us every day of our lives, nearer to us than our own I. Thus, not only is all well eternally, but we are not alone.
The third layer of the peace of Christ is the realization, once again granted to us directly by Christ’s spiritual presence, that we are loved, and that this love of God is greater than any other possible power; that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Since we love because God loved us first, God’s love is the ground of our own love, including our loving God, ourselves and all others through that very love. Peace emerges in us the moment we realize that through Christ’s spiritual presence, through this love with which we are loved, we can do all things which God calls us to do. We can indeed do all things through Him who strengthens us.
In sum, the peace of Christ is harmonious connection with the tomorrow beyond our death, harmonious connection with our entire history of Christ being with us yesterday, today and forever, and harmonious connection with our present, with God’s present love enabling courageous, fearless living and witnessing to others about this unconditional peace of God in which we stand and live and move. If that does not bring us true peace, what will?