Peace... Completely

Posted on Apr 27, 2020 by Mark Muehl - Lutheran Spirit

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ 1 Thess 5:23

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” —Ronald Reagan

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely”- St Paul in his letter to the church in Thessalonica

Ability. Work. Self-achieved. God.

As the old Sesame Street song goes, “One of these things is not like the others...”

Peace is largely unattainable, yet it is sought in desperate ways. Reagan’s desire for peace came in communication, in relationships, in a thoughtful and honest conversation. Roosevelt shared an attitude quite prevalent today. Peace starts with believing it really is possible but only happens with the individualistic effort of each person. Emerson echoed Roosevelt’s challenge by introspective thought and challenges peace with you so it can happen for all.

But Paul? As usual when we consider our life in Christ, peace is not something that generates from self but rather only comes from the source of peace himself- God.

In her article “Stress and De-Stress: Perspectives on Mind, Body and Spirit” ( Vol. 155 | Issue 3 of the Lutheran Education Journal, Sudi Kate Gliebe, May 7, 2014) Sudi Kate Gliebe walks the reader through stress regulation. She speaks to handling emotions. She talks about not dealing with stress from an emotional standpoint. Without getting into great detail, she quotes Garnefski and Kraaij (2007) in identifying the following cognitive emotion regulation strategies: “Self-blame, Other-blame, Acceptance, Catastrophizing, Rumination, Putting into Perspective, Positive Refocusing, Planning and Positive Reappraisal.”

Aren’t we guilty of these “strategies?” Self blame? We can be so quick to blame ourselves. We’re taught not to look at others but rather as the Pogo cartoon infamously quotes, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We can be our worst critics.

Other blame? There are plenty of directions for blame to be directed in our less than peaceful world.

Acceptance? “It’s the way it is.” How often we throw our arms up into the air and say, “C'est la vie.” Afterall, we know it’s a sinful world and on this side of heaven, trouble will be obvious. And “c’est la vie” allows for a “devil may care” attitude when things DO fall apart.

Catastrophizing? “We’re going to fall into a depression.” “Our schools will close.” “No football next year?” It doesn’t take much to take the position of Elijah and lament (paraphrasing), “I’m done Lord.” (1 Kings 19:4)

We know Christ is the answer. He is the all in all. “In Him is life and life abundantly (John 10:10). We also know, KNOW, that His promises are sure and peace comes in Christ.

These words from the essay’s summary bear consideration- “Biblical meditation is anchored in the Word of God and stands apart from eastern mindlessness. Indeed, biblical meditation involves disciplining the mind and filling it with Scriptures. Biblical meditation is never passive; it is closely related to Bible reading, prayer and other spiritual disciplines (Whitney, n.d.). Although largely neglected by contemporary believers, Christians from previous generations considered meditation essential to spiritual growth, imperative to withstand pressures and tribulations.” (“Stress and De-Stress: Perspectives on Mind, Body and Spirit” ( Vol. 155 | Issue 3 of the Lutheran Education Journal, Sudi Kate Gliebe, May 7, 2014) )

As Gliebe arrives at meditation for faith and peace, she lists three important parts- thinking, feeling and doing. As she shares this conclusion, she rightly connects a secular definition of meditation with a Biblical, Christin application of meditation. With thinking, using Paul’s encouragement to consider things that are honorable, pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8) would be a breath of fresh air to the challenges of life.

And what about meditation in the affective realm? Bible study and prayer including time to reflect with friends in Christ the ups and downs of life can grow one’s hope, peace and joy in the Lord.

Finally, meditation is behavioral; it requires disciplined action. The monastic life of Luther’s time included morning prayer (at daybreak), prime (about 6 a.m), tierce (about 9 a.m.), sext (about noon), nones (about 3 p.m.), vespers - (early evening) and compline (before going to sleep).

What is your time(s) for meditation and what do you do? If there isn’t a set time, maybe it’s time to do it.