Then J.R. Miller (when I read his name the theme tune to Dallas rings off in my head, but he’s alright, really he is.) picks up the baton. He stirs the mind in challenging us on righteousness as a quality of peace and how the pursuit of peace must go hand in hand with pursuing holiness. Again maintaining a piece at peace that cannot but leave us challenged to take Christ seriously in living out His call on our lives.
So picking up the baton, I want to explore the difference between the peace that the world gives and what Christ offers.
First, though, I’ll give a bit of background about the look at peace (for indeed I am the aforementioned mug who got this ball a rolling). It’s interesting to note Alan’s reference to peacemakers being children of God. Over the last three years I’ve been challenged by the Beatitudes, especially the hunger and thirst for righteousness. There is something counter-cultural and radical about Jesus’ outlining of Kingdom characteristics. It was brave then and it’s brave today. It was odd then and it would be really odd for us to live it out today. Anyway, in my role as a Christian Spiritual Development Worker at the North Staffs YMCA one of my colleagues alerted me to this initiative about an International Day of Prayer for Peace. It’s another noble effort to do something about the evident lack of peace in our world and for me it’s another opportunity to link that to something that gets people thinking about the peace that God offers.
A year ago or so I went my son won a competition with some other people in his school to create a song about peace for a national competition. The winners got to go to the Royal Albert Hall in London to perform in a televised concert featuring some other notable music ‘stars’ headlined by Annie Lennox. Obviously my son’s crew won through to the finals and performed at the concert. The whole thing was called Peace One Day. I was honoured to be invited with my wife to watch the son perform at the concert. What was so disappointing about the whole event was how there was a great push for peace that transcended religious and political barriers as if it was possible for man to really rid himself of cultural ties and by the sheer power of emotion and reason desire this nebulous concept of peace for one day. As with a lot of movements it relied on a positive perspective of humanity that we were capable of achieving peace one day. Obviously this picture of peace saw children who were not bullied and the Middle East situation resolved with people putting their weapons away and everyone living together in harmony.
Remember that Coca-Cola advert I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing? We have that picturesque multi-cultural scene of peoples of all races rising their bottles to peace. The irony is, as with most subtle deceptions, it plays on an aspect of truth.
“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)
People want the real thing. People want the authentic article – the truth – and yet when confronted by the truth, when the Real Thing enters human history how do we respond? Rejection, neglect, denial and crucifixion. Real peace cannot come without attending to the truth – the truth of the flaws of humanity – its depravity if you will. Even as we view the course of history and various advanced and not so advanced cultures we fail to address the truth of many attempts at peace that have failed to deliver because we’ve attempted to do it without reference and humbling ourselves to the Creator of mankind.
The Peace One Day movement and others like it paint a picture of humanity as if it were possible from within to just bring about harmony. As if there’s something different about human nature from various attempts over history. Bringing with it false hopes ad false dreams so easily frustrated by an anthropocentric view of us truly being the centre of the universe.
What Christ offers is true peace from without and within. It’s true peace – not the peace that the world offers – because it’s theocentric in nature. It doesn’t say that humanity is without hope, but it does say that the hope is intrinsically connected to returning to the Creator of the universe. It doesn’t say that races cannot ever co-exist but it does say that a new mind and new spirit from above will be required to bring this society about. This truth is good news … if we’re willing to only see it, (which only comes by God’s grace) but it’s bad news for those desperately seeking for it to be based on our own self-given merit and worth.
I believe the opposite of peace is not war but division. That’s why the Prince of Peace has come to end all wars by bringing reconciliation – a reuniting, of something that has been divided by sin. One of the definitions of sin ironically hits the nail on the head. This concept is from the idea of seeing sin as missing the mark and if we keep missing the mark there literally is something always missing. Scripture narrative is the tragedy of mankind’s rebellion to His creator and thus missing the mark whether through fear or pride. And so must this ever be the case until we are reconciled with Him.
So the peace of Christ doesn’t offer the mirage of conflict resolution which acts as conflict evasion. The peace that Christ offers as reflected in the Beatitudes is one of reconciliation with the Creator through recognition of poverty of spirit, subsequent mourning comforted by God and being under His control to be a fresh perfume in the world hungering after that which is pleasing to Christ displaying the tendency of mercifulness with purity of heart in replicating the mission of the Son – making peace between God and man that brings real peace between man and man. Now as the last Beatitude assures us, this mission is in a culture which rebels and refuses to accept this light and this truth. Their refusal to come to terms with the basic missing element to bring peace – right relationship with God – means that they are forever pursuing in the dark something that only the light can offer.
Post Note: Please pray for peace .Over this month the Daily Thoughts will be based on the theme. We’re scheduled to be having a day on the subject and the prayer is that people can be reconnected with God and thus have the character to be peacemakers and join John in rejoicing over being sons of God.
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