Posts Tagged peace
“I find an increasing number of young Christians are willing to say “enough is enough” when it comes to militarism, to military budgets, and to embracing a peace orientation toward how Christians are to live in a world of international conflicts. Ronald Sider (Christ and Violence) and John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus ) have been powerful witnesses to pushing more Christians to ask not what is best for our power but how did Jesus embody the way of God — he did so through a cross that led to resurrection, not through a sword that led to a throne.”
BRINGING GOD INTO THE MIX
A biblically minded Christian must answer ‘No.’ For those who find their lives within the redemptive narrative of the creator and redeemer God of Israel, there is still a higher good to strive after. Justice and peace find their home in the heart, mind and purposes of the all-powerful, all-wise, all-good Creator God. Justice and peace must be sought and experienced within the context of a still more significant covenant relationship with God.
In fact, as Walter Burghardt argues, “the biblical idea of justice can be described as fidelity to the demands of a relationship. Justice was a whole web of relationships that stemmed from Israel’s covenant with God.” Lasting peace (shalom), as well, is found only as one’s world is brought into harmony (i.e., shalom) with God’s creative design and redemptive purposes found in Christ (Rom 5:1; John 14:27; Col 3:15). In other words, the truly good life is found not in securing our own rights, our own goods, or our own securities by our own finite power; but rather is found as we find ourselves in loving fellowship with people whose ultimate good is resting securely in the arms of the God whose infinite power and wisdom are guiding history toward his desired ends—his just and peaceful ends.
BETWEEN ‘THE ROCK’ AND A SANDY PLACE
The New Testament teaches that any Christian social ethic attempting to address the world’s problems with faithfulness and obedience to Christ ought to be “built on the rock” of Christ’s teachings (Matt 7:24). Yet this is the very lesson that many well-meaning Christians have failed to learn. Many have instead fashioned their moral programs and social ethics upon the shifting sands of human wisdom; and each time the rains of injustice and suffering “poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell” (Matt 7:27). The world’s wisdom proves over and over again to be foolishness in eyes of the crucified God. As the scripture says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and set aside the understanding of the scholars” (1 Cor 1:19).
Many of us therefore live somewhat awkwardly with one foot on ‘the rock’ of Christ’s cross-shaped teachings and the other in the sinking sands of social pragmatism and human diplomacy. Read the rest of this entry »
BUSINESS AS USUAL IN THE ‘FIGHT’ FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE
Before exploring the world-altering event of the cross and a cruciformed concept of justice, we need to spend some time in what will be much more familiar territory for most of us. I speak of the marketplace of ideas where ‘the fight for freedom,’ the struggle for equal rights, the relationship between church and state, and so on, are all sold daily at discount price.
When we survey the wondrous crosscurrents of ‘justice talk’ in the media today, we find ourselves gripped and moved by the emotional pleas to ‘fight for our rights’, remembering that ‘Freedom is Never Free’ and ‘Peace has a Price.’ The focus of all of this bumper-sticker jargon is ultimately a shared longing for a just and peaceful world.
All political parties and religious faiths find common ground in the struggle for justice. Yet paths quickly diverge once considering the deeper questions of ‘Who’s justice?,’ ‘At whose expense?’, and ‘By what means?’ Scott Bader-Saye highlights this deeper complexity: Read the rest of this entry »
He came closer to the city,
and when he saw it, he wept over it, saying,
“If you only knew today what is needed for peace!
But now you cannot see it!
There is no place worldwide where Habakkuk’s cry is not heard; and Jesus’ tears still wet our cities’ streets today. The world’s pain and suffering cries out for justice and peace. Yet what does it look like when they finally prevail? And, more importantly, when and by what means will it actually come to pass?
So we ask, “What is needed for peace?” These perennial questions have had many proposed solutions. Yet, in a world where injustice still reigns supreme, it appears all human attempts to establish a global kingdom of peace and foster universal prosperity have so far ultimately failed.
Christians have taken different sides on this issue. Some quarters of “Christendom” have allied themselves with the political powers and socio-economic systems of the day, attempting to Christianize the worldly systems and use them as God’s instrument for peace and justice. Other Christians have separated themselves from society altogether, placing upon it the stamp of divine condemnation, and simply awaiting the rapture from this hopeless world.
Political and social activism is advocated by the former, while the latter focus solely on ‘soul-winning,’ shrugging off social involvement saying ‘it makes little sense rearranging the deck furniture on a sinking Titanic.’ Both of these approaches fail on biblical grounds. What then is the church’s appropriate response to the world’s injustice and suffering? And what ecclesial action (if any) is expected of us by God while we await the new creation — the kingdom “wherein justice dwells”?
Drawing significantly from the works of John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas and Jurgen Moltmann, the forthcoming series of posts will argue that the popular definitions of justice used in mainstream political and theological debate need to become more Jesus-shaped and our values more cruciform if the church is going to be faithful in its task of following the way of Jesus, i.e., the way of the cross, in the world today. (Note: This is the unique call of the church, not the world, secular governments, etc.)
Join me on my search for a more Jesus-shaped, cruciform understanding of justice. Stay tuned.
On this week of my 30th birthday I am sharing some personal journal entries that provide a window into the trials and triumphs I faced during the decade of my tumultuous 20s.
I had my share of days where anxiety over the future and insecurities over the person I was becoming brought about short bouts with depression. I often felt lonely and misunderstood at home during these years, and sought refuge and sanctuary on a walk in the woods or a drive to the bookstore to find a friend in a book.
Thankfully, I also learned to cast my cares upon the Lord during these times. I had turned my future over to God in a very real way, and I was learning to wait upon the Lord, hoping and trusting that He would open the right doors at the right time.
The following journal entry takes me back to my favorite place of refuge — the hollow behind Bethel Seminary under a giant oak tree along the shore of Lake Valentine. This was a truly great moment with God. I’m so glad I wrote the following down.
I hope my words below adequately paint the scene. Enjoy!
April 1, 2003
Not much fooling around on this April Fools Day. I awoke in an uneasy spirit of discontentment. Feeling the purposelessness of my life right now. I am 23, blessed with an expensive college education, gifted with knowledge and abilities to succeed, but lacking the drive and courage to compete in this rat race world of “survival of the fittest.” I feel worthless with my huge debt of college loans and no steady income to show for my education. I am trying to substitute teach but receiving no calls the past few days. I can’t afford NOT to work. Flustered and emotionally disheartened by the last conversation with [a girl], I am just not happy. Read the rest of this entry »