Friday, July 11, 2008

Spheres of Peacemaking: Internal, Interpersonal & External

Following up on the last post, it struck me as I considered Jesus' calming of the storm that there are different "spheres" or types of peace - which means, in a very real way, one can be a peacemaker in multiple ways. Using that event as an example of this, let me break peace down into three distinct categories:

1) Internal (within one's self)

As I mentioned in the last post, while the storm raged across the waters and the disciples feared for their lives, Jesus slept. This physical condition can be seen in cases where someone simply is exhausted, so this event might be explained in those terms by an unbeliever, but this does not explain His reaction when He was awakened. That reaction was measured and controlled - not frantic or worried. He simply stood up and commanded, "Peace, be still."

This command illustrates an important point. There is a difference between being at peace and not moving. Jesus commanded both with His words, "[1]Peace, [2]be still."

2) Interpersonal (shared with others)

I have not addressed this aspect of the event in previous posts, but I see the command quoted above as two separate commands - as illustrated in the last section. The first is the command to be at peace; the second is to be still. I believe this statement not only was two commands, but I believe each command was directed at a different target.

Winds cannot feel; they do not experience emotion or the state of internal balance or equilibrium we call "peace". Only conscious, aware, living entities can experience this condition. Therefore, I believe the command, "Peace," was directed at the disciples. It was His way of saying in a hectic moment of fear and great anxiety, "It will be fine. Calm down. You can be at peace." In other words, He was sharing His internal peace with others. If you have ever held a crying child (or even an adult) as she wailed uncontrollably, whispering or cooing or simply holding her, then watched as she finally calmed down (and perhaps fell asleep), you have shared peace in this way.

There are some people who simply exude peace and calm - who radiate peace and serenity and spread peace almost naturally when they enter a room. That comes more naturally to them, but it is a characteristic that can and should be developed by all who strive to be disciples of the Prince of Peace.

3) External (not internal within humanity)

External peace is exemplified by the calming of the winds - the imposition of a command on forces outside of normal human control. Jesus commanded the wind to "be still" - which simply means to stop moving. This is something that I believe is only available to God and those with whom He shares His power. The classic example is ordination to the Priesthood and the power that such ordination entails that includes the right to command the elements, but (to some degree) such power also is accessible to all who take upon themselves His name and act within that designation - who legitimately can "be called the children of God".

One lesson that is overlooked in how Jesus calmed the storm is a simple yet profound one:

Jesus acted because His disciples approached Him in the midst of their storm. They appealed to Him when they said, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" His answer to that question was, in essence, "Yes, I care. See how much I care." It was to give them peace and calm their storm.

Although many storms are allowed to rage on as we gain peace and strength to endure them well, prayer (approaching God and asking for reassurance of His concern for us) can calm some storms in our lives - and help us understand that we truly can be called the children of God.


adamf said...

Internal (intrapersonal?) "peace" is a lot harder for me than interpersonal. In psych terms we often use the phrase "emotional regulation" which I think Jesus was absolutely perfect at (obviously).

You have done a lot lately in bringing a gospel perspective into secular issues for me lately Ray. Thanks. :) It's nice to be grounded now and then in things of the spirit while immersed in secular graduate studies.

Mama D said...

Phenomenal! And necessarily apropos to me right now. You are able to express yourself in ways that help others. Thanks!

Jami said...

I thought of you the other day when I was reading the Joseph Smith manual, chapter 29, page 342. Certainly you crossed my mind as someone who has been discussing peacemaking, but more as someone who practices it.

"Jesus said: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ [Matthew 5:9.] Wherefore if the nation, a single State, community, or family ought to be grateful for anything, it is peace.

Peace, lovely child of heaven!—peace like light from the same great parent, gratifies, animates, and happifies the just and the unjust, and is the very essence of happiness below, and bliss above...

Animation, virtue, love, contentment, philanthropy, benevolence, compassion, humanity and friendship push life into bliss: and men, a little below the angels, exercising their powers, privileges, and knowledge according to the order, rules, and regulations of revelation, by Jesus Christ, dwell together in unity."

Whenever I see injustice and roughness in the Bloggernacle, I think, "Where's Ray? He can take care of this without being a jerk." Generally, it's not too long until you swing by with a peacemaking statement or two.

I can't tell you how many times I've noted with admiration the way you walk away from a brew-ha-ha with a calm "I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree."

Papa D said...

adam, thanks for your kind words. I believe there is nothing purely secular - that everything is spiritual at its base.

mama, I'll speak with you privately. *grin*

jami, I'm not sure you realize how grateful I am for your comment. Just today I realized one area where I need to do a MUCH better job in the area of peacemaking, and I was feeling just a bit hypocritical as I realized how I had been handling that type of situation. Your comment was a balm, and I really appreciate it.