A FRIEND OF MINE who is a Priest reported in a homily that once he was talking to a friend of his, who is a Bishop: not his own Bishop, mind you, but rather a trusted friend and mentor. My friend, the priest, was complaining about all kinds of things until it went from simply whinging to nearly ranting. Suddenly the Bishop said, rather loudly, “Father! Guard your peace!”
I thought of that story recently reading in 1 Peter where the Apostle, quoting from the Psalms, urges us who would “Love life and see good days” to, among other things, “seek peace and ensue it”. What is peace? What am I not only supposed to seek and to ensue (chase after)? I found the following from Strong’s to be of great interest on the word “peace” or ειρηνη in Greek:
irḗnē (from eirō, “to join, tie together into a whole”) – properly, wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace (God’s gift of wholeness).
It ties in well, pun intended, with several other important Greek words: σῴζω – to make whole (also “to save”); from whence we also get σωτήρ – the one who makes us whole (also “savior”), ie Jesus. I found myself wondering if “Salvation” might not be seen as this “peace” that the Bishop was asking my friend to “guard”.
Christian salvation is not the following:
- We sin.
- God exiles us from Heaven/banishes us to Hell.
- Jesus paid for our sins.
- We get into Heaven/get out of Hell free.
There are many claiming to be Christian who teach that. But the Church founded by Christ has never taught it. Salvation can’t be taught in a sound bite or in a four-point tract from Campus Crusade. Here rather, is the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints:
- God is Life.
- There is a difference between Life (which can never end) and just breathing – which will stop. The difference is so great that the New Testament has two different words for these two different types of living. God’s life is ζωή zoe, breathing is βίος, bios. This word sometimes even gets rendered as “goods of this life”.
- Our primary calling is to God’s Life, to Zoe – but our weakness leads us into distraction by the things of this world, by Bios.
- Our distraction cuts us off from the divine Life, loops us into ourselves. Our desires become what feeds us: we settle for smog and dust rather than the pure, clean air of the mountainside.
- We confuse our petty choices and appetites with divine promptings. We mistake our passions for our souls.
- We end up eating to survive, killing to get on with only breathing. When food runs out or our age and weakness destroy our ability to get food or our other desires, we stop breathing.
- Then we die.
- Try as we might humans have never found a way to get outside of this cycle – or to simply give up be satisfied with being trapped in it. We know there is something more: we feel it in our guts.
- Denying that gut feeling leads to depression, psychosis, megalomania, fear, hate. More death.
- Humanity runs this road together, Over and over.
- Jesus is God – Life – grafted into humanity. (We are all one; Jesus is one of us. God is one of us.)
- God’s life is connected to us.
- Jesus heals the division, restores our wholeness.
- We need only to live it (by first changing our mind about what real living actually is) in order to participate in the healing of the division between us and God, between us and each other.
- Living God’s life makes us whole, heals us.
- Salvation is a cosmic action – not an individual one. Salvation is passing from Bios to Zoe.
- Salvation is becoming whole which none of us can do alone, meaning not that I need God, but rather we humans need each other needing God.
- Christ is our reconciliation: not the price “paying” for my sins. But the healing of the division between you and I and us and God. He connects all the essential parts together.
- He is the way, the truth, and the Zoe.
- Christ is our peace.
But it is so easy to get distracted.
Guard your peace.