“I just need some peace and quiet!” These are words had been part of my vocabulary for so long. “Peace” and “quiet” went together like “sick” and “tired” or “peanut butter” and “jelly.”
When the stresses of life seemed to pile up, as well as the laundry and dishes, and everything was out of control I would hear the desperation in my voice begging and pleading as that phrase escaped my lips.
But what was it that I really needed? What was true peace? Would a few quiet moments make everything better?
Romans 14:17-19 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up-building.” That sounded great to me. Let’s pursue what makes for peace. I’m all in!
So I set out to discover how to obtain peace.
Well, it turns out that peace was going to require a more effort than I had anticipated and that the end result was much greater than the momentary relief in my circumstances that I had previously been so desperate for.
The word for peace in the New Testament contains the idea of completeness, fullness and wholeness. Not only that, but it’s the kind of wholeness that makes you want to pay-it-forward. It’s going to impact others. To pursue this kind of peace means removing the barriers that disrupt unity and reconciliation, either between an individual and God or amongst two or more people.
This definitely isn’t the rest and relaxation I was dreaming of. In fact, the Bible uses phrases like “pursue” and “strive” that indicate that if I want this kind of wholeness I am going to have to work at it and that peace has everything to do with how I live in relationship with others.
I began to realize that there are two major ways that people address relational issues.
The first way is to be a peace-keeper. Phrases like “Don’t rock the boat.”, “Leave well-enough alone.”, and “I don’t want to get involved” communicate the desire to just maintain the status quo and a temporary, self-preserving motive that will buy enough time to find relief from the situation at hand. My desire for “peace and quiet” was largely from this motive. To just get away from it all. But it would all still be there when I returned. It wouldn’t change anything long-term.
The second approach is to be a peace-maker.
This doesn’t always result in immediate peace and wholeness in relationships. It’s an investment and may require sacrifice and change. It also may require getting involved and not avoiding confrontation. Real change happens here. Real peace.
As I looked around at mess of my life I realized that if I want quiet I can sit alone in my room, but if I want peace I need to invest in and nurture those around me because peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18).