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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Peace

Peace can be something as simple as "no conflict," which is definitely something that is worth working towards in many parts of our world today. Having the privilege of meeting many refugees while a pastor in the Montreal area, something as simple as having no conflict is a blessings many of us simply take for granted. Even if there is still hatred and anger, if there is a strong enough presence to make sure that violence is contained and the average person is safe, this peace would be a huge improvement over what exists in so many places this very day.
But the peace that Paul is  talking about as part of the Fruit of the Spirit is more of an inner peace, a way of being in a stress-filled, easily offended, and rights oriented culture or society. We live in a wonderful society where we are normally free to live out our faith and values and the government normally protects us in doing so, but there are elements of our society that make it difficult for many people to have an inner peace within themselves.
Jesus said, “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.” The peace Jesus gives is the Jewish concept of peace or shalom. Shalom is about health and wholeness in relationships with God and others, it's about a sense of prosperity (not necessarily financial) and contentment, it's about integrity where what you believe, say and do all fit together in harmony, it's about well-being emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. It's about being able to be calm even when the world around you is going nuts. This peace comes from trust and faith in knowing that God is with you, that Jesus is in control and you can rely on the knowledge that his plans for you will help you be the person you've been created to be.
Peace does not mean that life will always go easy or well for you, peace is about how you handle and approach life during those times with a sense of inner peace, calmness and trust in God. Peace chases away fear and that sinking feeling in your stomach that comes from the knots of stress and anxiety. You can easily recognize those who have this kind of peace because they bring calmness and sureness into chaotic and stress filled situations. 
It does not come naturally for most people, but it is something that can grown, after all it is part of the Fruit of the Spirit and a fruit's characteristic is that it begins from a seed or bud and with the right environment and nutrients, it can, and will grow and ripen. What are you feeding your soul and spirit on to grow peace within? What environment are you living in or creating around you? Is it one that helps you cultivate peace? Who do you trust in, who do you place your faith in? How you answer these questions will lead you to a place where you too can find and have peace. Hint: look to Jesus.