Word of Peace

Living in the heart of conflict

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What does the word peace mean to you? In English there is only one word for peace, which most people think of as the absence of conflict and the end of war – somewhere calm and tranquil, resulting in restful contentment. This kind of peace is dependent on outside circumstance, and can be shattered at any moment.  The Greek word for this kind of peace, “hesuchia,” only occurs once in the New Testament (1 Timothy 2:2).

Can this be the kind of peace that peacemakers talk about?  CHIPS projects are always found in places of tension – on the borders, even in no man’s land, or wherever the need for peacemakers is greatest. How is it possible for team members to live and work in such places?  The clue may lie partly in Ephesians 2:14 where we read that “Jesus himself is our Peace” and came to make peace (Ephesians 2 14-18). In John 14:27, we read that Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, MY peace I give you, (but) not as the world gives it.”

 So what is Jesus’ peace, that we are also told is “beyond our understanding”? The word used most commonly for peace in the New Testament is “eirene”. This kind of peace is not passively dependent on outward circumstances, but is a dynamic force. It fills the heart and mind of the peacemaker, at peace with God, enabling them to stand firm and bring positive action to the situation – order out of chaos, and harmony out of discord. It assumes a continuous, evolving process of peacemaking.

It is the kind of peace that enabled Jesus to sleep through a terrible storm on the Sea of Galilee, and then to be woken, to stand up and subdue the waves “to a great calm”. It is the peace that enabled Jesus to suffer an unjust trial, torture and crucifixion and still cry, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke23:34).

It was that inner, active peace of Christ that enabled the disciples, and those that have followed him down the ages, to preach the gospel to all nations in the face of severe opposition. And this is what inspires Paul, Desmond, and our other team members to go into places of tension and demonstrate peace in the midst of it, and make the possibility of creating harmony a practical reality.

Elfrida Calvocoressi, Chair of Trustees