War and peace
These past three weeks, the world’s attention has been held captive by the war that Russia has been waging on Ukraine. But there are other wars being waged currently all across the world. There have been wars throughout the history of mankind.
When you search online for the phrase ‘War and Peace’, the first result will be of the well-known literary work of the Russian author, Leo Tolstoy. The work, chronicling the French invasion of Russia, shifts between history and philosophy.
These two extremities, war and peace, will never co-exist. One brings destruction and destroys things that have taken years, generation and millennia to build, and the other fosters growth, facilitates coexistence with the promise of a better tomorrow.
Everyone would prefer peace, but what makes them go to war with another. The answer is in us. The war that is waged externally has its beginnings and roots in the heart of a man. Insecurity, fear and jealousy are some of the things that could drive one to attack another. While the first two could be driven by a survival instinct and the desire to stay alive, prosper and leave a legacy for future generations of the family, the last one is quite unnecessary and is driven a combination of wanting more and the inability to fulfil those wants (of course, the wants are driven by what our neighbours have). The great war between good and evil, started at the very beginning, with the rise of jealousy in the heart of Lucifer for the position that God held.
There will be many justifications given by those who start a war, and some of those reasons could be genuine, but we know that and eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind. How do we convince the war mongers to give up their ways, and how do we overcome our own desire to settle things violently?
While there are a few that go looking for trouble, most of us prefer peace in our lives. With men’s needs, desires and fears constantly driving them to violent action, their efforts at peace are rather short-lived. With the best of their intentions going into making and maintaining peace, it rarely lasts long. The answer then is to look for something that could lead us to having peace before brokering with our neighbours. The answer is in taking God’s help to find this peace, hold it within ourselves before we let it permeate our family, community and the world.
The oft quoted verse of the peace of God is Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. But this presence and action of the peace of God is not automatic. The preceding verses say this – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. We grow anxious about the safety, needs and identity of ourselves and our loved ones. We need not worry if we leave it to God and trust him. Our jealousy can be conquered with thanksgiving that draws our attention to what we already have, and helps us have more gratitude. And finally, the fact that we have now presented our requests to God, the omniscient and omnipotent, would let us be at peace.
When each of us is able to win the internal wars we are all facing and personally enjoy the peace of God that passes all understanding, is when we can hope to contribute to and build peace in the world. May the peace be with you.