By: Pastor Bob Wallace, retired United Methodist Pastor
“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” John 14:27 (NIV).
These quoted words of Jesus, spoken on the very night before He hung on the cross, remind us to reach out to Christ for peace—especially in these very troubling times.
Our world, our nation, even our community are very fractured. Not only do we see horrific violence on the news every day, we continually are bombarded by words of hurt, division, hate, and anger. Our politics are filled with nasty rhetoric and lies. Where is the peace?
“Peace I leave with you,” Jesus said. We must find peace through Him. The peace He offers us is a peace that will lead us and guide us to choose love over the hate, animosity, and division we are seeing all around us.
In fact, to experience the peace of Christ we are called upon to love one another as Jesus loves us. (See John 13:31-35). Jesus shared this new commandment at the same time he shared the words “Peace I leave with you…”. Such peace and love do NOT rely upon the things happening in our world or our community. This peace and love rely upon our relationship with Christ and choosing to live out the gift of Jesus’ love and peace.
Even from the cross itself, Jesus offered that love and that peace. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” He said (Luke 23:34).
Jesus’ hope is that you and I will allow our hearts to be filled with His peace so that, in this very troubled world, we might live the gift of unconditional love.
One of my all-time favorite songs from my youth was born out of another very confusing and difficult time in our history and was sung by Jackie DeShannon in 1965. The lyrics were written by Hal David and music by Burt Bacharach. The classic words of that song are: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love…no, not just for some but for everyone.”
The admonition in these lyrics is as strong now as in 1965. More than ever, we need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus by choosing to open our hearts—even in the midst of the world’s chaos—to the “peace of God that surpasses all human understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
And then we need to live out of that peace, rejecting all the negative rhetoric and hatred and instead choosing to love others—all others—into the peace of Christ.
“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” (a song by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller). May God guide us on our journey of peace, love, compassion, understanding, and hope. That is certainly “what the world needs now.” God’s blessing and peace guide you in your journey.