By John Hutchinson
In a world convulsing with conflict and suffering should we give up on peace?
It's now more than two thousand years since the angels sang: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
A writer of long ago said, "If there's to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations. If there's to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities. If there's to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbours. If there's to be peace between neighbours, there must be peace in the home. If there's to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart."
Peace between neighbours
Both were adjoining farmers and they got on terribly. One called his dog by the other's name. When rounding up sheep he swore at his kelpie with every loud and ugly expletive he knew – hoping the neighbour could hear it!
Is that the way to live with the person next door? Neighbours should be friends and be there for one another.
"Love your neighbour as yourself," says the Bible, "love does no harm to its neighbour."
Peace in the home
Home, of all places, should be a place of peace. But, the need for shelters has never been greater. About 75 Australian women die each year from domestic violence. But, how many are physically and emotionally damaged for the rest of their days?
Domestic violence is costing billions. What nightmares must plague the sleep of little ones who hear it and see it!
Dorothy Law Nolte's famous list of childhood influences says: "If children live with hostility, they learn to fight." She also said, "If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live."
Parents need to role model peace. Children need to see what it looks like.
Peace with ourselves
How do we rid ourselves of rage, fear, selfishness, prejudice and pride – and everything else which robs us of mental tranquillity?
We need peaceful attitudes. How can we be at peace with ourselves when we're stirring up others?
Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
"Make every effort to live in peace with all people," says Hebrews 12:14.
We need peaceful motivations: The apostle Paul said, '...the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.'
How much better things could be if we pursued "patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self- control!"
“Make every effort to live in peace with all people”Powerful and peaceful motivators stem from a relationship with God. Human nature needs the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.
We need peace with God. The Bible says: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ..."
Jesus came to a hostile world – not a lot different to our own. Despite his simple lifestyle and humility, violence erupted against him and he died a most humiliating and torturous death.
Yet, hanging on a cross, He exhibited peace like no other. He prayed for the forgiveness of those who nailed Him to it and spoke kindly to others. He was truly the "Prince of Peace".
One of the most gentle emulators of peace I have met was once America's most infamous terrorist – a man who seethed with hate and rage toward black people and Jews – a man familiar with machine guns and bombs.
In a solitary cell, through reading the New Testament of the Bible, he found a new life in Jesus Christ, a new motivation, a new birth. Love replaced hate and he now seeks to do the most good he can to those he once hated.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
Wishing you a peaceful year.•