Peace Be With You–By Professor Paul Anderson
A couple weeks ago, on “May the Fourth,” Star Wars fans passed along the greeting from the films, “May the Force be with you,” to which some replied, “…and also with you.”
This greeting and response echoes a practice in many churches, where believers pass along the peace of Christ, responding to each other with the same blessing. “Peace be with you.” After all, Jesus offered peace to his followers in the upper room, and it’s a fine practice to continue in our lives, as well (John 20:18-26). In the passing of the peace, we become bridges of Christ’s peace to others.
However, during the days of the Covid-19 shutdowns, we might miss receiving that blessing in person. And, we indeed miss the physical touch and presence of those we know and love. Yet, the peace offered by Christ is not dependent on outward means of circumstances. And, no matter how bad things are around us, divine peace is offered us within. Jesus says in John 14:27:
Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
So, what does the “unworldly peace” of Jesus look like?
First, it comes to us from within, not from without. It is independent of outward circumstances; no matter how bad thing are around us, Christ speaks peace to our souls, if we will but stop, listen, and receive (John 20:21-23).
Second, the peace of Christ comes from the Holy Spirit—reminding us of the truth we need for the moment—speaking to us the timely Word of Christ as a guide. The Holy Spirit operates as an advocate, a comforter, a helper, as the Spirit of liberating truth (John 16:13).
Third, the peace of Christ comes to us as a gift—a grace. It is neither earned nor deserved. And, it does so because Christ has overcome the world and its powers. As Jesus reminds his followers in John 16:33:
I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!
Despite the shutdowns around us, the peace of Christ continues as a living resource, transcending the bounds of time and space. It needs only to be received and embraced as a gift, received with gratitude, and expressed in the form of our peace-extending lives.
So, whether it be on May 4th or every day before or afterwards, these words continue to speak: Peace be with you.
Written by George Fox University Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies, Paul Anderson