I despise bumper sticker theology. After all, how can you condense the Holy One to a sound-bite? One that I see frequently is “No God – No Peace. Know God – Know Peace.” Frankly, it annoys me, because it’s only half true. “No God, No Peace.” Check. I agree with that idea. But there are quite a few Christians who “Know God” but do not know anything about peace. Not in their homes, not in their souls, not in their world.
We await a peaceable kingdom that Jesus intends to bring to earth, but the human bent toward self makes true peace impossible in the world as we know it. Peace requires us to give up some of ourselves, our ideals, and even some of our wealth – and most of us are reluctant to change the things that make us un-peace-able people. We can’t get peace between ethnic groups because we refuse to give up our un-peace-able stereotypes. We can’t get peace in our marriages because we refuse to give up our un-peace-able notion that love is all about feeling good. We can’t get peace between nations because we refuse to give up our un-peace-able levels of status, comfort, and consumption.
Peace will not come until the Prince of Peace exerts the power of the gospel of love in a fulfilled kingdom, a kingdom for which I yearn more and more as I age. I criticize warring nations – including our own – but governments can no more beat cruise missiles and combat vehicles into plowshares than I can beat my own un-peace-able behaviors into pruning hooks. And until we Christians can manage to bring peace to our homes and churches, we cannot even begin to imagine peace in the Congo or the Middle East or even in our own Senate.
What we need is the one who frames our Advent waiting – a coming messiah who will rule with justice and mercy and who will lead us to intentionally move toward unity by way of an oh-so-subtle drift toward grace. Only then will we truly be able to say that when we “Know God” we “Know Peace.” But until then, you and I can strive to get rid of the un-peace-able planks in our own eyes so that, upon seeing more clearly, we can look with love and peace at others. That’s the fodder for the sermon this Sunday – it’s called All the Earth Awaits Peace and it comes from Isaiah 2.1-5. We worship at 11:10 am this week and I hope you’ll join us.
Not a Sermon – Just a Thought is a weekly email written in hopes of getting you to think about your faith and your everyday world. If you wish to no longer receive this email, or would like to receive it every week delivered free to your e-box, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m the pastor at Willow Meadows Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and you can find more info about us at www.wmbc.org.
2:1 The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2:2 In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.
2:3 Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
2:4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
2:5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!