In USA Today, you can find out if you live in a peaceful state. The Institute for Economics and Peace has ranked all 50 U.S. states according to “homicide rates, violent crimes, percentage of the population in jail, number of police officers and availability of small arms”. See where your state shows up in the report here.

As interesting as the rankings are, the Institute’s definition of peace caught my eye. For them, and most people in the world, the definition of peace is “the absence of violence”. That definition may work fine for a study in geographic social trends, but is a sad substitute for people’s everyday lives. You don’t have to have bullets flying around you to lack peace.

Finances, health problems, unruly children, broken dreams, job losses, divorce, depression, car issues – these and and a multitude of others take peace away every day. As a matter of fact, each of the problems just listed were mentioned to me in one day of visits with Maryland General Assembly members and staffers. Some were dealing with the situations just fine. Others were a mess. And none of the issues depended on the number of police officers nearby. Peace is not merely the absence of violence – it is the presence of Jesus Christ.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:27

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus ChristRomans 5:1

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  Colossians 1:19, 20

As you pray for your leaders, pray that they will find true peace, not by the world’s philosophy, but through the one and only Prince of Peace.