As the season of Advent begins, I've been pondering some things.
Is it possible to “fight for peace”?
Can an armed force ever truly be called “peacekeepers”? Or we might ask, is what they are keeping really peace?
It is said so often that it has almost become cliché to say that God’s peace is more than just the absence of conflict. Shalom is life without fear, a way of being that is comprised of justice and mercy, grounded in the everlasting love of God, cultivated in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and manifest in the person of Christ Jesus of Nazareth.
In our human fallibility, we tend to equate peace with everyone pretending to get along with one another. But that’s not peace. There’s more.
You know those family gatherings where there you avoid broaching certain topics because you know the ensuing conversation is not going to be pretty? And then you think that, if you can just avoid the given topic for a couple hours, it will all be over and you can go home? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about … well, that’s not peace. Even if everyone is pretending to be cheery, you know you’re all thinking about the thing you’re not going to be talking about, wondering who will slip up and say something first, and then how the lovely dessert that Aunt Ethel worked so hard on will just be ruined, thanks a lot you.
No, pretending to be cheery for Aunt Ethel’s sake is not peace. Peace is the way that you handle the issue, not the resolution. Peace requires you to address the conflict with love, understanding, respect, and graciousness. You might resolve it, you might not. That’s not the point. The point is in the way you approach it.
Expand that example outward to talk about churches, or communities, or nations. What if we reconceived everything, to think of peace as the way we approach any given situation, rather than the resolution of the situation one way or the other. How would that be? What would that look like?
Beating swords into plowshares would be more than just pretty poetry, it would be a weekend activity. There would be “Spears Into Pruning Hooks” courses offered at High Schools all over the world. War would be something that we learn about in history books, not something we learn how to do in combat training.
Peace within one’s self – peace in our personal relationships – peace in our communities – peace in our world. God’s peace is a way of living that ought to impact every level of life. If we are serious about the presence of God being everywhere, all the time, we need to reflect that in our actions, everywhere and all the time.
(btw, cool Advent Stuff here - Its All About the Presence)