Scripture for consideration:
“Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Isaiah 32:14-18)
The other day I was invited to in an “interfaith” gathering for the purpose of “meditating” for world peace. It always sounds good to get together over peace, right? But is this the answer?
So I began to ask, seek, and knock – how can lasting peace be achieved? What is God’s way for a Christian approach to peace? The foregoing passage was a part of the answer.
Isaiah at first points out, as all reliable prophecy does, what life is like when we become disconnected from God, the Source of all Good. Life will be less than what God intends, to say the least, “until the spirit be poured out upon us from on high”.
Peace is one of the things that slips away if we are not fully connected to the Prince of Peace by being filled with the Holy Spirit. That means we are surrendered fully to God and to His will. Then we’re no longer “hostiles” toward God and His kingdom. Peace is the result of righteousness – its “work”.
Yes, the Holy Spirit began to be poured out on all flesh at the first Pentecost. However, it works like this. The Holy Spirit can be likened to a magnificent waterfall, pouring out from the eternal reservoir of the Presence of God. The Holy Spirit is not automatically imputed! We must bring our empty cup – empty of the agendas of self – hold it out into this waterfall, and get what we lack… whenever and wherever needed, perpetually. We can never stop praying for the Holy Spirit.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled, promises Jesus. He is speaking of the righteousness of God, not our ego-self righteousness.
And what does Isaiah tell us that this righteousness brings? Peace, quietness, and assurance! You can’t “meditate” peace into existence, as by force of will, but peace results by surrendering self to the Righteousness of God. Then peace is a “by product” of righteousness. It is received by a cessation of hostilities between the human and God! And it will be the peace of God which passes all understanding, peace not as the world gives.
Seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, according to Jesus Christ, and “all these things” shall be added into you. In light of Isaiah’s words, that would include peace, not just physical things.
There’s a simple twist in much of our thinking that needs to be straightened out like tangled yarn. That is the idea that we ought to seek only God, and not things or conditions and circumstances – including peace. Anything can become an idol in the human mind, and that includes peace! Consequently many fall prey to godless ideologies that falsely promise peace. And at what cost?
So we ought not to fellowship with darkness in order to seek after peace! Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ is how those who are called by His name ought to seek peace – asking, seeking, and knocking in order to receive the Holy Spirit.
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13)
Let’s come to peace God’s way, brothers and sisters in Jesus! It is only through the human container, empty of self, that the Holy Spirit can be poured. One soul at a time. Then we become the “instruments of His peace”, the peace that passes all understanding, peace as the world cannot and never will give!
One of the most beautiful prayers I know for asking for the Holy Spirit is in the form of a very ancient hymn, first penned by Bianco da Siena (c.1350-1434). I’ve recorded it here https://soundcloud.com/blaise1/come-down-o-love-divine so if you’d like to sing or hum along, here are the lyrics:
Come down, O Love divine, seek thou this soul of mine, and visit it with thine own ardor glowing; O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear, and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn, till earthly passions turn to dust and ashes in its heat consuming; and let thy glorious light shine ever on my sight, and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long, shall far outpass the power of human telling; for none can guess its grace, till Love create a place wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.
We can also then pray the prayer of Saint Francis, to specifically be made an instrument of God’s peace. It is a prayer of complete self emptying!
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”
All glory be to the Prince of Peace – the Way, the Truth, and the Life – through Whom alone is any lasting peace possible – within our hearts or within our world!