My daughter Rebekah, a six-grade English teacher, would remind us that what we are about to talk about is a homophone. A homophone is two words that sound the same but have different meanings. You do remember everything that you learned in sixth grade English, right? Well, I don’t either. Before I began this paragraph I had to look up what to call two words that sound the same but have different meanings. I could have sworn that it was a homonym, but that’s two words with the same spelling that have different meanings. Before we get lost in an English quagmire, perhaps I should introduce you to our homophone – piece and peace.
Now, we all know what piece means. It is a part of something larger like a piece of pie – I’ll take one piece of pie, make that two pieces, make that all of Grandma Hulda’s Black Raspberry pie. And we know that peace has several different meanings. Peace as in the end of war or cessation of hostilities. Or peace as in a quiet, relaxing, and wholesome place. Or peace as in being free from anxiety. And lastly, peace as in reconciliation or made whole again.
Let’s bring our two words into the concrete reality of relationships. How often have we wanted to give someone a “piece of our mind”? I’ve never heard that used in a positive context, it always means that someone is in trouble. As in, I’m mad and I’m going to tell them about it. Give away too many of these pieces and soon there’s nothing left. “Piece” has to do with division, separation, and the drawing of lines. When we fall to pieces our life is segmented, broken, and no longer whole. Peace, on the other hand, desires and celebrates wholeness. “Peace” encourages reconciliation, that all those things which caused division are put aside and forgiven. That what was once broken is renewed to wholeness again. Let’s consider three types of relationships which piece and peace impact.
The first relationship is with God. The angels announced the night Jesus was born, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14, NLT) And Paul observed, “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.” (Romans 5:10, NLT) Whether we knew it or not, we were, or perhaps still are, at war with God. But it was a rather one-sided affair, like a mouse shooting peas at a mountain lion. (Just to be clear, we’re the mouse). Even though we didn’t deserve it, and perhaps never even asked for it, God made peace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The second relationship is with ourselves. How often are we at war with ourselves? Confused, conflicted, ashamed, pulled in more directions than we can handle. Jesus offers us rest and peace, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30, NLT) Walking with Jesus makes us whole again. But it does require one thing, that we humbly turn over the control of lives to Him. If we think about it, the reason our lives are confused, conflicted, and like a 1000 piece puzzle where none of the pieces fit together is because we’ve tried to control everything. We were in charge. Peace comes when we let Jesus do the driving.
The third type of relationship impacted by piece and peace is with each other. No surprise there. We have a choice, we can seek tranquility by separating ourselves from those we dislike, that are hurtful, that are stupid, or just plain mean. Or we can treat them like Jesus treated us, with grace, mercy, forgiveness, and peace. Paul encouraged, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NLT) But Jesus’ also recognizes that not everyone to whom we offer peace will accept it. In those instances, we must hold on to our peace with God and with ourselves and pray that God’s peace also penetrates the lives of those that hate and reject us.
We are not called by Jesus to be piece makers, separating the world into the “haves and have-nots”, only touching those we judge to be worthy of grace. They say that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure – yet God treasures us all (John 3:16). We are instead called to be peacemakers, restoring and reconciling all that is broken back to Jesus and peace and wholeness. But let’s be honest, it’s really hard to care about the broken lives of others when ours is shattered. The best thing I can tell you is to turn to Jesus, find someone to help you pray through the pieces of your life. Trust that even though it looks impossible, Jesus can put the pieces of your life back together again. I thought about ending this piece about peace by encouraging everyone to ask Jesus for a piece of His peace. But Jesus doesn’t offer us just a piece of His peace, He gives us the whole thing.