My friend, Shane Claiborne (he doesn’t know he’s my friend, but he is), is living in a new monasticism. In this simple way, he writes about what peace can look like.
“Peace is not just the absence of conflict; its also about the presence of justice. Martin Luther King, Jr. even distinguished between ‘the devil’s peace,’ and God’s true peace. A counterfeit peace exists when people are pacified or distracted or so beat up and tired of fighting that all seems calm. Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.”
Where can we be peacemakers in our world today? It seems to me there are many, many places we can begin. The fighting between political party adherents. There has to be a way through the tribalism that persists between our political parties. There is a place where all voices can be heard, and there has to be a place where the good of all is pursued. We’ve made our politics so toxic, taken on such a “winner-take-all” approach that leaves little room for compromise, and certainly no room to consider a third way.
I only chose politics as an example of where peacemaking could bring about change. There is a great debate on the prevalence of guns and the misuse of these weapons to cause great harm. Again, Shane writes…
“The early Christians said, ‘When Jesus disarmed Peter, he disarmed every Christian.” For hundreds of years, Christians were never seen carrying swords, and they followed the way of the Prince of Peace even unto death, loving their enemies and blessing those who cursed them. It doesn’t look like a good strategy for running an empire, but it is the narrow way that leads to life. Undoubtedly, it doesn’t always seem to ‘work.’ As we look at history, and even as we read the Scriptures, there seems to be evidence that violence has worked times, and failed at times, just as nonviolence has worked at times and failed at times. In the end, the question is, Which looks most like Jesus? For we are called not just to be successful but to be faithful to the way of the cross, even unto death. The way of the cross did not seem to work on Friday, but the promise is that Sunday is coming. In the end, Love wins.”
I have to wonder if giving peacemaking a chance might be the third way for so much of what plagues us right now? Is there anything in this world that cannot be overcome with the peace of God? When we apply peace in situations that are chaotic and where good outcomes are seemingly unattainable, we are being who Christ calls us to be. This is true even in our relationships. When we are at odds with one another, there is a third way, if we commit to seeking it. The world is desperately in need of the peace which God gives each of us. Let’s you and I seek it, find it, and apply it.
Lord, you call us to be vessels of peace. Help us to seek the third way in all the places we find ourselves. Let us do the sacred work of peacemaking in all the places we find ourselves. We know you are coming in glory to bring the fullness of peace, healing and justice. Teach us to wait when you would have us to wait. And teach us to act when you would have us to act. Fill us up with so much expectation for your coming kingdom that we cannot help but enact it now. Amen.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,