“Peace Be with You”
What Do You Mean by That?
At Christmastime, when we hear people say “peace to all” or “peace on earth,” we might remember what Jesus said on that first Easter Day. When he appeared to the disciples, he said, “Peace be with you.” After he showed them his hands and side, he said again, “Peace be with you.” A week later, when doubting Thomas was with the disciples, what did Jesus say to them? You got it: “Peace be with you” (John 20:19-26, NRSV).
In the hallway at school, when someone says, “Peace,” it means different things to different people. In the same way, people understand Jesus’ words in different ways. Some people understand the peace of Christ as personal peace. Being at peace means relaxing and feeling good. Others understand peace as the end of war; the peace of Christ is world peace. Still others understand peace as peace among people whose relationships are healthy, fun, and lively. Could they all be right?
From Pieces to Peace
The peace of Christ is all we hope for and more! The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Shalom means the peace of harmony, fulfillment, and blessing for all living things. Jesus takes the Hebrew meansing of peace and makes it better. Jesus lives peace by forgiving and loving everyone.
The peace of Christ brings together the pieces of broken lives, broken communities, and a broken world and—slowly but surely—weaves them beautifully back together. Then, the whole of creation surges with new life.
Me? A Peacemaker?
Jesus knows that it takes real people to bring real peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he says, “for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9, NRSV). Great movements for peace always require many people to be faithful in small ways. Sometimes people change and begin to behave in new ways. For example, the person who knows inner peace may work to end war. The one who feels most comfortable acting for world peace also reaches out to his or her next-door neighbor. The Christian who enjoys quiet Christmas prayer springs into noisy New Year’s action.
Your work as a peacemaker might begin by taking food to a shelter for the homeless. You might pray for your country and for the people who make decisions about national defense. You could be a peaceful presence when friends start to argue. Begin today. You will be blessed by the peace of Christ.
Read God’s promise of peace to Israel through Solomon in 1 Chronicles 22:9 (NRSV):
“See, a son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace. I will give him peace from all his enemies on every side: . . . and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days.”
God promises peace. Reflect on how the word peace is used elsewhere in scripture. Write on a piece of paper, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Post it in your room as a reminder of God’s promise and your responsibility.
—from devozine (November/December 2000). Copyright © 2000 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.