The significance of world peace

“Peace amidst our earthly fears” is the plea in an old hymn from the New Apostolic choir repertoire. This is the wish of all Christians. Jesus already told His disciples that they would have tribulation in the world, but that they could be of good cheer as long as He was with them. And what about today?

Is there peace in the world? Hardly. In the last year alone there have been over 30 wars, most of them civil wars, which have resulted in the deaths of large numbers of innocent people. Terrorist gangs wreak havoc. Many people in Northern Africa and the Middle East are fleeing from cruelty, seeking refuge from death, and leaving their homelands. The refugee influx has taken on huge proportions.

And yet there is an International Day of Peace. It takes place each year on 21 September and is organized by the United Nations. It is to be a day of cease-fire, a day when weapons are silent and people come to their senses. But this appeal is largely ignored.

Christian churches around the world support this appeal for peace with worldwide prayers. Each year the World Council of Churches calls upon its more than 350 member churches to get involved with prayers for peace. The New Apostolic Church is also joining in. Congregations all around the world will participate in praying for peace. This year the UN is captioning these prayers for peace with the motto “Partnerships for peace – Dignity for All”.

Peace today

One of the most important papers in human history is the Charter of the United Nations. Its very first Article cites the preservation of world peace as the most important goal of the UN. In the past, peace was defined as the absence of war, but today we understand it to mean something more: respect for human rights, conflict prevention, disarmament, education for peace, and even human post-conflict rehabilitation. The UN has published good material on this subject. Today’s understanding of peace has grown, but so has the list of wars and civil wars.

Over the course of its history, the United Nations has established numerous institutions whose goal is to preserve world peace, for example, the UN Security Council, UNESCO, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court. And yet true peace refuses to manifest itself.

Jesus is peace – peace is in God

Christians know this. They seek peace with God, with Jesus Christ. Living in peace is more than keeping peace. New Apostolic divine services on 23 September will be captioned by the heading “Living in peace”. Living in peace with our neighbour, that is where everything begins. Jesus Christ is our peace. Christians know that. He sacrificed His life so that mankind could be reconciled with God. He was the one who spoke the words, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14: 27). Faith in Jesus Christ gives us peace.

And what about us? What can we do? The letter to the Hebrews tells us to pursue peace with all people (Hebrews 12: 14). This is an important call to action! Let us allow love for our neighbour to prevail. And here we must remember that our neighbour is always the one whom God has put beside us. The peacemakers are called blessed. Are we prepared to make peace?

Photo: Marcel Felde

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Peter Johanning
Denominations, International