One of humanity’s deepest longings has always been to bring about lasting world peace. We’ve tried various forms of government throughout the ages, always hoping that peace will follow, and have achieved some temporary success. However, each government has failed the test of time. Peace simply doesn’t last.
Orthodox Christianity tells us how it believes lasting world peace will come. It teaches that the resurrected Jesus will one day return to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Only then will the world enjoy lasting peace. When is Jesus going to do this? He was once asked this question, and replied as follows:
“The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you.” [Luke 17:20-21]
What did Jesus mean? Simply that the establishment of the Kingdom of God is not an external phenomenon. It is revealed internally.
Hmmm… Could that mean that the world peace that we all long for must be brought forth from within us? Is that why all external governments have failed to produce lasting peace? Can peace actually be externally enforced on others? Or must peace be an individual choice that we extend to others?
Peace cannot be imposed externally. It is fundamentally an internal phenomenon. To be at peace means to be free of internal conflict. External conflict, which the world seems to possess in abundance, is merely the outward projection of our collective internal conflict. What Jesus is really saying is that the Kingdom of God is established in each one of us when we achieve inner peace. Then, in place of conflict, reigns peace and joy.
When this happens, the words of an ancient proverb are fulfilled:
“When there is joy in the soul, there is beauty in the person. When there is beauty in the person, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is stability in the nation. When there is stability in the nation, there is peace on earth.”
Is this even possible? Yes. How is it possible? By applying what is perhaps the most misunderstood principle in human experience: forgiveness. We’ll discuss this more in the next post.