Living and perpetuating a life of peace are central to the Christian and Jewish religious expressions. The teachings of peace which underpin both Christianity and Judaism are existent in their sacred texts; The Bible for Christians, The Torah and Mishnah Torah for Jewish adherents. Albeit peace is of paramount importance to both traditions, the concept of peace is expressed differently. Christians believe the only way complete peace can be attained is through the full acceptance of Jesus Christ, the incarnate.
Analogously, Jews believe that true peace can only ever be attained is if the person achieves inner peace, through the development of potent interrelationships with the divine realm, humanity as a collective can bind together through the likeliness and guidance of the monotheistic, metaphysical divine being, known as God.
These principle teachings play a significant role in the lives of Christian and Jewish adherents, as they ignite the spark that calls individuals to attain inner peace.
And as such, it is through the essences of developing inner peace as an individual, in which ultimately influences the notion of world peace as a whole by virtue of mankind.
In Christianity, peace is immortalized through the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Peace is more than merely an absence of violence and conflict. Inner peace is attained through being at peace with God; to maintain it the person must retain a continual relationship with God.
The act of penance is crucial in attaining a sense of peace as it absolves the person from all sin and guilt – in (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV), Jesus explains that you should “aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, and live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. ” Adherents are called to act as people who actively seek reconciliation over retaliation. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the ultimate symbol of this belief – forgiveness is also carried out by Jesus “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. One of the principal teachings of peace is that the Peace of God is beyond the peace of this world – in (John 16:33 NIV), Jesus asserts that ultimate peace comes in faith in the lord God “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ” In (Mathew 5:9 NIV), it is expressed that those who advocate peace will be able to ultimately call themselves the sons of God.
The beatitudes illustrate the many virtues that man will be rewarded for having; Jesus states that the peacemakers will be called to be sons of God “blessed are those who are peacemakers as they will be called the sons of God. ” Jesus Christ was the apotheosis of peace, he taught that loving your enemy and praying for those that persecute you “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 NIV) as well as turning the other cheek, “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.
If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. This teaching reflects the Christian belief in fairness amongst all people; everyone is the same in the eyes of the Lord, even if they are enemies and as such, it is fundamental that mankind live their lives in accordance to integrity and fidelity just as Jesus Christ did. Paul of Tarsus reiterated the peace championing works of Jesus in (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. ” Against such things there is no law, where he explained that inner peace comes from the Holy Spirit, which dwells in the hearts and bodies of Christians.
The teachings of Christ impact heavily on the lives of Christians, they follow in the footsteps of Jesus so that they too can live a tranquil and peaceful life. In (Matthew 6:6 NIV), Jesus explains the merits of praying to the lord God and the reward of inner peace, “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret: and your father who sees in secret will reward you. ” It is through this conversation with God that Christians pursue peace in their lives. Prayer can either be private or communal, spontaneous prayer is one way that charismatic communities can come closer to God.
The act of prayer allows believers to have a personal conversation with God; it alleviates stress attributed to the monotony of everyday life. Besides prayer, meditation is another way of attaining inner peace, it is an ancient practice within the Christian tradition, which has undertaken a recent revival, a global group that reaffirms the concept of praying and meditating for inner peace is Taize. Not as popular as prayer and meditation, Lectio Divina, generally known as bible studies is a way for Christians to feel connected to God and to finally attain inner peace.
The studying of the sacred scriptures on a day to day basis and reflecting on prayers also maintain a continual connection with God. It is vital to maintain equilibrium between prayer and service, whereby an individual fathoms the notion ‘ora et labora’, in order to equally partake in both prayer, and the concept of action whereby ora develops inner peace, which is mirrored through the actions taken from this inner peace to promote world peace through labora, and as such it is the steps that a Christian individual takes in order to do good deeds in the name of Jesus Christ.
Although ‘God is the ultimate deliverer of peace’ (Isaiah 26:12), it is through the principal teachings on peace in Judaism, in which guide the contribution of individuals and Jewish communities to sustain inner peace, hitherto foreshadowing world peace. It is peace that is highly valued and should be sought after at all times.
This is largely because the imitations of God’s righteous and compassionate nature is required of all observant Jews in (Deuteronomy 28:9 NIV) “walk in his ways” and (Leviticus 19:2 NIV) “You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy”, whereby in order to sustain inner peace one must acknowledge The Golden Rule; “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18 NIV).
Judaism adheres to the concept that; every human life is sacred, based on the creation account in (Genesis 1:27 NIV) which records human kind as being made “in God’s image”. Genesis 9:6 NIV) “Whoever sheds the blood of a human being by human beings shall his blood be shed, for in the divine image did God make humanity”, whereby it is interpreted that when one destroys a single individual, it is as if that person destroyed the whole world. (Sanhedrin 4:5). Judaism teaches that, in order for the individual to attain inner peace, the individual must be faithful to God. Judaism is unequivocal in regards to guiding the individual towards achieving inner peace, affirming repeatedly that it is only attained through obedience to God.
Such a view is existent ithin the Tenakh, whereby it states “The fruit of righteousness will be peace… the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places” (Isaiah 32:18 NIV). Thus, faithful observance of the necessary mitzvot is positively required in order for the individual to enjoy God’s peace. Judaism places great emphasis on the notion that without inner peace a person is torn; without communal peace people are isolated; without global peace, the world is fractured and shalom remains an unrealized ideal, whereby Jewish life is a struggle to cleave to the commandments of the halahcah.
A core commandment of the halahcah is to fulfill deeds of loving kindness, in which is derived from the development of inner peace within the individual, and as such, Jews work towards a personal peace through living out their faith in which is mirrored through the daily recitement of the Shemma – “Here O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV).
And it is by virtue of this, in which the Jewish individual adheres to the demands of the Lord our God, by way of partaking in the constant attempt to ‘repair the world’. The Tikkun Olam encompasses both service to society by helping those in need and service to the divine by liberating the spark within. The essence of the divine spark, known as our conscience, lies hidden beneath the layers of our egoistic self-centeredness.
This is achieved by pursuing spiritual inner work to strengthen our soul and conscience without shattering, willingness to act on what we know to be right, unwillingness to act in harmful or grasping ways, and capability to notice the quiet presence of conscience beneath the din of our chattering minds and reactive emotions, in which ultimately enlightens an individual to live life based on Jewish morals and values, in order to sustain inner peace in which eventually fabricates itself to promoting world peace, as an act of repairing the world.
As such, the notion of repairing the world intertwines with the fundamental belief that world peace will be achieved when every Jewish individual returns back to the ‘chosen land’ of Israel, and that peace will be an ever living fundamental condition to mankind when; “The wolf will sit with the Lamb, the leopard will lie with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6 NIV).
Overall, the principle teachings of peace in Christian and Jewish religious expression substantially impact on the lives of adherents, especially in relation to achieving inner peace as inner peace lies at the quintessence of Judaism and Christianity. The principle beliefs in Christianity are of compassion, kindness and love as a means of attaining inner peace, whereby Judaism follows similar principles, which are based upon the notion of repairing the world and living Jewish life in accordance to the halahcah through it’s sacred texts.
Through prayer to the lord God, Christians and Jews move closer to achieving inner peace, however, it is only through unmovable faith in God that inner peace can truly be achieved for the individual. However, it is vital for both religious expressions to maintain the equilibrium between prayer and the act of service or work in order to mould the notion of peace to the world as an ongoing fundamental human condition, ultimately allowing mankind to live in such utopic nature, diminishing the notions of sin and suffering within the world we live in today.