I’ve been thinking a lot lately about peace. Not only because I find myself in a profession where there is very little of it to be found, but because of how important it is in the Christian scriptures.
As regular readers know, I believe that the biblical writers thought that the resurrection of Jesus signaled the “beginning” of a new world that God had promised. Different writers will call it different things (the synoptic gospel writers call it the “kingdom of God,” John will say that “light” is coming into the world, and Paul will talk about “new creation”). But it seems to me that, whatever images are used to characterize it, this new world is always represented as a place where there is peace.
– God originally decides to destroy the world in a flood because he cannot bear man’s violence
– Out of the ten commandments, the last six directly address our tendency toward conflict
– The Psalms repeatedly emphasize the need for patience with the violence and other misdeeds of the wicked – the people of God should wait on God to act in judgment, but also redemptively toward those who are not wicked
– The prophets repeatedly emphasize the coming day in which the world will no longer experience conflict
– Jesus arrives in the world with an announcement of peace from the realm of Heaven
– After the resurrection, Jesus greets his friends with the announcement of peace
– Paul considers peace to be a sign of the presence of the Spirit of God
– Paul also encourages his readers to live at peace with everyone
But the biblical text that has stood out more than any other has been this, simple beattitude:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
To be one who is like God, then, one must not only live at peace with others (as Paul encourages), but who actually makes peace. God’s business – and our own – it seems, is to bring peace into the world.
[Ed note: this was originally intended as the start of a series. However, I’ve pressed the “abort” button on it – at least for now. I want to take things in a somewhat different direction for the time being…]