In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard and the goat will be at peace. Calves and yearlings will be safe among lions, and a little child will lead them all. 7 The cattle will graze among bears. Cubs and calves will lie down together. And lions will eat grass as the livestock do. 8 Babies will crawl safely among poisonous snakes. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes and pull it out unharmed. 9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain. And as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD.
This paragraph describes a messianic prophesy of a time when the world would change. Although these words have come to be interpreted in many ways, for me they refer to the coming of Christ within our minds and hearts, the birthing of the Christ in our conscious awareness.
When we dwell on Christ’s presence within us and open our lives to the flow of God’s Spirit through us, we begin to balance the human ego and our true spiritual nature. The darker parts of us that prey on our gentler, more loving parts, are tamed. Our wolf nature lives in peace with our lamb nature.
This does not mean that we are weak, timid, or skittish. This means that when we are living in Christ all of who we are works together in harmony under God’s direction, through God’s love, power, will, and grace, toward God’s good for us.
When we are living under Spirit’s direction all our skills and attributes are influenced by the Light of God. We have stopped warring internally, fighting against our very self because of confusion and ignorance. We face our challenges with strength and confidence, yet with compassion and understanding. We don’t just react; we respond ... lovingly, thoughtfully, guided by Christ.
When we are balanced, in harmony with ourselves, we are at peace. Our circumstances are irrelevant to the peace we feel within. When we stop allowing the world to dictate our inner condition, we find peace. This is a gift that Christ brings.
I know that I am a rebel when it comes to certain mainstream beliefs within Christianity, but I truly do believe that it is through the awareness of Christ that we connect to God – and it doesn’t matter about religion. Our Christ nature is not just the means through which Christians are enveloped by Spirit, but all of life.
In my world, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists are all filled with Christ, and this is how we connect with a Higher Power, our Higher Self, Allah, Brahman, Elohim, or whatever name we use in our multifarious religions, belief systems, and life philosophies. It is Christ, the individualized essence of God within each of us, that is our commonality.
This is why we can allow people to be themselves, believe what they want, follow their own traditions, and still consider them to be a part of our large family. We are united in God through the inner Christ, no matter what we call that bridge or even whether we acknowledge its existence.
As we become more aware of this loving presence within us, the Christ within us, we begin to drop the walls of mis-education and old beliefs. We stop allowing our televisions and friends to instruct us, form our opinions for us, influence our thoughts, and rather, we turn within to the Source of Truth and knowledge. In essence, we trade the chaos of the world for the peace of God.
But it is a difficult journey to finding this peace. There is something addictive to being on the right side, to being part of the winning team. As human beings with bodies, we are so invested in being right that we judge, and condemn, and point our fingers and blame, and discriminate, and fight, and continually state how wrong everyone else is if they don’t believe what we believe or live the way we live.
The world is enticing, and there is something addictive about chaos and conflict. The media knows this and relies on it for their ratings. We are addicted to the duality of living on the earth. We are obsessed with finding resolution to conflict and are convinced that in the discovery of that resolution we discover peace.
But my question is this: why do we need conflict to find peace, and not just live in peace? We find joy in the harmony resulting from the chaos that has been ordered. But why not just live in the joy amidst the chaos and disharmony?
The answer is that we are addicted to the duality; we believe one can’t be had without the other. Perhaps what Christ has come to teach is that there is only peace, and joy, and love, and harmony, and that everything else, including their opposite, is a construct of our human thinking and the judgments that we make.
The cattle and the bears are part of the oneness of God. Our dark sides and our light are part of the oneness of who we are. We don’t need to give in to the dark, we can simply love both aspects of us and allow them to manifest in our lives under the guidance of the Christ. Anger is then directed toward solving problems; our fears balance our impetuosity. Through Christ we are whole; we are perfect just as we are. It is self-judgment that creates imbalance.
Instead of juggling the disparate aspects of ourselves … I am loving, I am impatient, I am compassionate, I am demanding, I am angry, I am kind … can we just move to the place of “I am”. All the parts of us make up a perfect whole. When we can release self-condemnation, we find peace. When we find the peace of Christ, we find balance. When we find inner balance, we can then connect with others in a more sensible fashion.
Jesus tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” It is a peace beyond just ‘freedom from disturbance.” True peace is found even amidst turmoil. It is a balance found between the world, our selves, and God. This the meaning of the phrase “Heavenly Peace”.
In the Sermon on the Mount, we are told “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” At this point in the Advent season, it is a fair question to ask ourselves, “Am I a peacemaker?” The song we sing at the end of each Sunday service states, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Are we actively living a life devoted to bringing peace on earth? Do we get upset by the people who believe differently from us, who don’t celebrate the holidays ‘for the right reasons’?
We must ask our self: Am I a peace maker, or am I a ‘peace connoisseur’? Do I judge and choose and selectively pick the times when it is convenient and easy for me to express peace and establish peace, or am I actively striving for peace in all relationships and situations? I confess this is still a struggle for me. There are times when I let my judgments and fears impede my inner peace, and I let the world dictate how I should feel.
If you ever feel like that, then congratulations – you are human! This is one of the tough lessons that Christ’s rebirth attempts to teach us. So, we keep praying, keep making contact, keep turning inward in the quiet to that loving Presence within us.
Peace is possible, but takes time, willingness, practice, and effort. I pray that we take the phrase “Heavenly Peace” and make it mean something in our lives. I pray that we become active and eager participants in the journey toward becoming peacemakers as the birth of Christ is revealed to our hearts.