Short Meditations on Peace 6. The World’s Poverty
1 Pet 1:2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
I have entitled this meditation ‘The World’s Poverty’ not to speak about financial poverty but to consider the poverty (or absence) of peace that is in the world. Go next door and it is absent in the home of my unbelieving neighbour. This we forget so much of the time, that peace is largely absent in the mind of the unbeliever. We take it for granted for it is our inheritance – but not theirs.
They may not be ‘unhappy’ as long as they keep doing things, as long as they keep busy and keep active, but if they are left in silence, then worry and anxiety rise to the surface. My unbelieving neighbour lacks peace because they are on their own in the world and the people who are around them are fickle and can be so self-centred and turn on them so easily. All around them marriages or simple partnerships are breaking up, hundreds of thousands every year and relational breakup is one of the greatest reasons for absence of peace.
If this appears a somewhat condemnatory assessment of the world it is not meant to be, merely a recognition of the state of life that an unbeliever has, with no strong sense of undergirding security. How we take for granted the knowledge and presence of the Lord in our lives as Christians and the blessings He brings to them. My friend and neighbour has the same worries and concerns that I have (which we’ll consider more fully in a later meditation) but has rarely anyone who is there for them with whom they can share their worries and receive wisdom or counsel.
Talking with those who come through to Christ, one is reminded of the realities of the godless life. When the apostle Paul was reminding the Ephesians of what their lives used to be like before coming to Christ he spoke of “gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.” (Eph 2:3) That description suggests a self-centred life, one of self-satisfying, self-centred thoughts and desires but one that is never satisfied, never content. In reality, as we look around, it is one that seeks personal gratification by food, drink, pleasure of many kinds and new experiences. It desires love but rarely finds it, substituting it with temporary sexual experience that leads nowhere except frustration and loneliness. It lacks grace to cope, refuses to grant forgiveness and holds on to hurts and grudges and so easily takes offence. It worries about out of control finances fuelled by ongoing desire to keep up with everyone else and has a Pandora’s Box of worries that are so extensive it dare not be opened. In this sort of environment, it is no wonder that peace is absent. This is what your unsaved friend lives with. Don’t forget it. Pray for them.