Peace, Justice, and Gospel
March 18, 2017
The thirst thought I have is to eliminate the "and" because an adequate definition of "shalom" includes "well-being" of all and that includes justice. Furthermore, an adequate definition of justice implies well-being and the righting of wrongs.
Peace is not the absence of conflict. That is an inadequate definition of peace. There is plenty of conflict on the road to and in the quest for peace. It is how we manage conflict that shows whether or not we are at or in peace.
Peace is not at odds with truth and justice. It is a byproduct of both and a means to both.
We cannot let detractors define what peace is. Real peace is a spiritual reality first, but it is also a social reality and both dimensions are the concerns of God and God's people.
Peace is hard, complex work. The easy road does not lead there. The militaristic road does insure it. The political process does not fully facilitate it. I am not denying the place of simple thinkers, politicians, or military powers in the process or at the table. They are just not the ones who will get the hard work done of sorting out the complexities.
It is hard work because, usually, everyone is right and everyone is wrong. All interests are valid and some interests can be laid aside. All parties are human and all are endowed with dignity as a gift from their Creator. It is complicated and it is simple.
Peace is a goal because peace is just and comprehensive. Peace protects all people's rights to life and liberty as well as the pursuit of happiness as long as peace is properly understood and defined.
Peacemaking is a calling for followers of Jesus and cannot be denied. It is a primary calling that we have in the ethical realm. When we speak the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of peace is part of the package. We speak of and offer peace with God through Jesus, we declare a Kingdom message as well.
Did I mention that peace is hard work? It is, but it is also a grace-gift. The capacity for peace is available to all individuals and peoples.
Peace and peacemaking align us with a cause greater than ourselves and place us in the realm of the miraculous where all things are possible, even those things that are un-imagined and unimaginable. When we actually follow Jesus and obey His lifestyle demands in our relationships, things happen that defy logic.
Of course, we could get beaten up or we could die ....
... but our survival (I speak now only in the context of following Jesus) is not an ultimate value for our lives and choices. We have died already and the life we now live is by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. So, if our bodies are sacrificed along the way, we have gained.
That is not to say we invite abuse.
It is to say that we shall not abuse in order not to be abused.
Peace and Justice are not two sides of the same coin. They are both on the same side of the same coin.