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Advent 2023 - Peace - Overcome the World



Isaiah 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!


This is the second week of Advent when we consider Peace. We may have asked ourselves, “What is peace; where is peace?”  We encounter many kinds of peace in our lives: peace of mind, peace of body; we pray for world peace, and seek peace within our own relationships and our very souls.


When we can look at peace from more than one perspective, we begin to understand it more fully. We can look at it internally and externally, individually and collectively. We can consider peace as it relates to ‘us and them’ or ‘me and you’. Then we can observe peace as ‘out there’ and ‘in here’.


‘Out there’ is easy to understand, either singularly or communally; it is what our minds know. Peace is defined by dictionaries as a state of harmony characterized by the lack of conflict. This lack of conflict can apply to interpersonal relationships as well as international relationships. From this perspective, peace is easy to measure: are we, or are we not, in conflict with someone or something?


The inner experience is more difficult to recognize and quantify. Culturally, we seek peace through our religions and treaties. Although peace is a fruit of Spirit and a gift from God, sadly, not all religions teach the value of peace. Why not? - because religions are created by humans, and humans often have other agendas. The same for peace treaties. We have this obsessive desire to be right and we want everyone to think as we do, which would confirm our ‘rightness’.


Of all the perspectives we can observe on peace, it is the internal personal view that has the most effect on our being. We sense peace as we enter our ‘inner chamber’ and listen for that ‘still small voice’ and abandon all earthly conflicts.


Isaiah 11:6-9 reads: The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.


Although this prophecy can be interpreted in many ways, I understand it to refer to the birthing of Christ in our conscious awareness, a personal knowing within our minds and hearts.


When we dwell on Christ’s presence 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. 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 Christ. Anger is then directed toward solving problems; our fears balance our impetuosity. 


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. When we live under Spirit’s direction our skills and attributes are influenced by the Light of God. We face challenges with strength and confidence, yet with compassion and understanding. We don’t react; we respond lovingly and thoughtfully, guided by Christ. Through Christ we are whole; we are perfect just as we are. It is self-judgment that creates imbalance and chaos.


When we are balanced internally, 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 heavenly peace, a gift that God gives us, a fruit of Spirit, and a quality that Christ brings to our lives.


I know that I am a rebel when it comes to certain mainstream beliefs within Christianity, but I truly believe that it is through the awareness of Christ that we connect to God – regardless of religion. The inner Christ nature is not just the means through which Christians are enveloped by Spirit, but all of life. This is what Christ meant when he said, “I am the way.”


In my world, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists are all filled with Christ, and this is how we connect with a Higher Power, God, 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 family. We are united in God through the inner Christ whether we acknowledge its existence or not.


As we become more aware of this loving presence within us, we begin to drop the walls of old beliefs and miseducation. We stop allowing our televisions and friends to instruct us, form our opinions, 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.


In John 13:33 Christ says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Did Jesus face chaos, fear, temptations, and darkness? Yes, he did. Yet he says, “I have overcome the world.” So, how did he do it? Yes, through prayer, and through focusing on God, through carefully choosing his environment, thoughts, and actions.


Matthew 16:23 teaches an important lesson while Jesus engages Peter. Christ says, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Peter was speaking from fear and ego, but Christ would have none of it. This is the lesson: we can tell the worldly fears and temptations of body, heart, or mind to get behind us, to get out of our face, to talk to the hand. We refocus our thoughts on God’s love and light and let go of the dark thoughts. Christ demonstrated that we are given the courage and faith to overcome the world. Through Christ’s help we can control our reactions, our emotions, and the temptations of the ego and have access to heavenly peace.


It doesn’t mean that suddenly our trials are over. No, they are still there. But by releasing their influence we can rise above them so that they have no power over us. We can look our fear and self-hatred in the face and say, “I see you and you are not me, nor do you have any power over me.”


Unlike world peace, which is the absence of conflict, inner peace is the acknowledgement and observance of conflict and the choice not to claim it, judge it, or engage it. Our trust, faith, focus, and vision are on God, and the result is peace.  We release, and feel the peace. That is what Christ taught.


True peace is not attained by being in what we normally think of as a peaceful state, nor is it gained from a state free of stress. The peace of Christ is the peace of being in the presence of God…of simply being. Despite the circumstances we are in, chaotic or calm, when we are cocooned within the presence of God, we are at peace; we are peace.


We can have peace at any time. “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” Christ is saying, “I will give you rest from the chaos of your mind as you release the power it has over you. Rise above your thinking and dwell in me.” We have but to turn to Christ within us, be still, and acknowledge that the world, as our minds sees it ‘out there,’ has no power over us.


In John 14:27 Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.” Christ gives to us a gift of peace that the world cannot give. In the world, we can attain transitory peace as we free ourselves from conflict and disorder. But despite how orderly our world becomes there will be times when it becomes discordant again. If our peace depends upon what happens ‘out there’ we will constantly fluctuate between peace and stress.


This does not mean that we ignore the unrest, turn our backs, and not engage or help when we can.  This just means that any negative we perceive in this world does not control us; it does not define us or have power over us.


Through Christ, we too can ‘overcome the world,’ tame the mental biases that permit false impressions to control us and dictate our choices. 1 John 5:4 tells us: “For everyone born of God overcomes the world.” All who allow the Christ Spirit to express through them overcomes the world.”


It is my prayer that we realize peace, perfect peace, heavenly peace is available to us. Temporary peace is found in the absence of stress and conflict. Permanent Heavenly Peace is found by embracing God as the One and Only Source, the One and Only Presence in our lives and in this marvelous Universe.


Philippians 4:6-7 teaches, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Praying, asking God to remove our vulnerabilities to worldly influence, and giving thanks enables us to rise above the world, overcome the world, see beyond the conflicts of our human existence, and know the peace that passes all understanding. This peace will guard our hearts and minds from further negative worldly impact because of our connection to God through Christ’s presence within us. This is one of the powerful lessons that the birth of baby Jesus some 2000 years ago continues to bestow upon us today through Christ Jesus.


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