It would be nice to believe that every person with faith in Jesus is striving to be a peacemaker. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It seems like Christians are often the first ones to point the finger. Forgetting Jesus’ command to love our enemies, we get wrapped up in a fury of emotional patriotism that overrides any moral obligation that we may have to recognize the inherent value of human life.
We buy into the moral polarization that is presented to us by governments that say, in essence, “When we do it, it’s good, but when they do it, it’s bad.” We dehumanize other men, sometimes even whole races and nations. We put our citizenship in our nation on Earth first before our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. We forget that we are not of this world and that our allegiance rests not with a flag but with Jesus, who rose from the dead, and with the God of all love.
The question remains: Are we, as a church, a people of peace? If so, why do we so often use intimidation and fear to coerce those who have differing opinions from ourselves? Why do we have no problem with the government’s skyrocketing “defense” budget that will be primarily used for offensive purposes? Why do we hoard the world’s resources, both physical and economic, in barns, while millions of people are locked outside?
It is roughly estimated that in the West, we consume 80 percent of the world’s resources, yet we constitute only about 20 percent of the world’s population. You don’t have to be a mathematician to see that something is terribly wrong. And yet we say we are for peace because we pray for peace in the world. We pray that God would give our leaders wisdom. We would like to see peace.
The problem is that we would like God to give some sort of supernatural jolt to the world that would allow us to continue living the way we always have, while everyone else would magically be brought up to our standard of living. We’d like Him to eliminate all international conflict, yet we have no problem supporting war. We’d like Him to come down in a storm of thunder, lightning and fire and set things right in this world—as long as we don’t have to change our lifestyles. We pray for peace while doing nothing to bring it to pass.
But if we are sincere about a desire for peace, we are going to have to bring our hands in line with our mouths, our lives in line with our prayers. We’re going to have to start living for peace, acting for peace. There is no getting around the lifestyle changes that will have to be made.
Unbridled consumption does not foster peace. Neither does unquestioned acceptance of anything that supposedly “godly” leaders say. We have made God in our image instead of allowing Him to bring us in line with His perfect will.
Peace comes from Christ Himself and is reflected in His life of selfless giving, simplicity and poverty. It’s reflected in His rejection of glory and praise and His wavering yet faithful and humble acceptance of the cup of death that was given Him to drink. He did not defend Himself. Peace is reflected in His body, hanging on the cross, broken for our sins.
He did not defend Himself against evil. Strange, then, that we can justify a stockpiling of weapons for no other purpose than to “defend” ourselves and still call it peacekeeping.
Anyone with faith in Jesus is called to share in His vulnerability, in His peace. We are called to be Jesus to a hurting world. Jesus said He gave us peace. We must accept it. Jesus allowed Himself to be spit upon, beaten and nailed to a tree. But even using all its strength, death could only hold power for a mere three days before being forced into exile for eternity.
[Jeremy Klaszus is a 20-year-old journalism student who resides in Calgary, Canada. He is currently working on a landscaping crew for the summer.]
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