“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
I have always had a troubled and contentious relationship with my brother. We each have our own quirks and habits that rub the other the wrong way and he eventually chose to distance himself from the rest of the family. Today, he doesn’t speak with either my sisters or myself, yet I still send off emails to update him on family affairs and let him know that I am thinking of him. Hopefully, one day, things will be made whole again.
As I write these things, and share them with you, I do so while reflecting on the verses in Ephesians about the armor of God. The last two weeks I have shared my thoughts on truth and righteousness, and I have come to the point in the text where Paul is speaking about the shoes of peace.
When I first began to associate my relationship with my brother, I wondered if by disconnecting from the family he found peace. Did it bring peace to the entire family by putting an end to conflict and hostilities?
As I looked in the Biblical texts to find their thoughts on peace, another perspective on its meaning begins to emerge for me. For the ancient Hebrews and still for their modern descendant’s, peace had a little different meaning. Peace is more than just harmony, it has connotations of completeness, wholeness and fulfillment.
In my family situation there is harmony in that the hostile environment is gone. Our relationships are far from complete, they aren’t whole. Peace means going beyond the bare minimum of negotiating an end to negativity and discomfort.
In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us “ 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.” This peace that Jesus is talking about goes beyond the physical and deals with the spiritual, with our relationships.
Jesus was very much about relationships, about help us to grow in ways that would help us to repair and restore relationships with each other and with God. Over time, we had gotten lost, started doing our own things for our own benefits. The world was filled with selfishness, discord, distrust and quest for power. Jesus lived as an example to remind us of how it was supposed to be, how we were intended to behave and treat one another. He showed us the way to peace and inspired us to believe it was possible.
Now I need to take that inspiration. Maybe a few appeals by email isn’t enough. Maybe I need to pray for guidance and peace and knock on my brother door and open my heart.
My final thoughts today about peace bring me back to the ancient Hebrew people and those who pray in a Hebraic way. Peace was and is such an important thing that almost every major prayer that is prayed throughout the day asks the Creator for peace.
May you have peace on your journey today and all days!