I find that more often than not, what I am praying for is Peace. It shouldn’t really be that hard to come by, one would think.
After all, we serve the Prince of Peace, are called to be Peacemakers, are given Godly Peace…and yet it seems lacking in the world today.
I think the main reason for that is that we have forgotten what Peace actually means.
Peace is not the absence of open conflict. It is not quiet. It is not still.
Peace does not give in. Does not calmly accept. Peace does not have to be polite, civil, or friendly.
Peace, real peace, is wholeness. Growth, Acceptance. Fulfillment. It is active and dynamic and, honestly, takes a fair amount of work.
If you look up various discussions of peace making, you will find any number of steps involved. Having looked at a bunch, I decided to stop trying to come up with a numbered list and just try and deal with principles.
First, if we are Christians, we must acknowledge that we are called to actively make Peace in the world. We must ask God for it. We must meditate on it. We must plan for it. That means not planning for violence.
“But I gotta right…” No. No, actually you do not. If you are a Christian, you have no rights at all, only your obligation to Christ and what freedom he gives. Christians, especially American Christians, need to repent of our love of violence and conflict. Repent of our glorification of it. Repent of our support of it.
Second, if we are going to be peace makers, we must acknowledge the value, concerns, and needs of all sides. We are quick to dismiss. Too quick. We must start with the basic premise that what the other person values is important and legitimate, even if only to them. If we treat what one person holds as sacred with contempt, we will never have peace.
Respect is the beginning of peace. It does not take much to see that very little of the public discourse in this country lacks even the pretense of respect. People are so traumatized, so desperately want their points to be heard, that everything has to be all or nothing. Hyperbole seems to be the only form of rhetoric we know anymore. Logical fallacies are taken as statements of fact.
Third, we must be willing to sacrifice for peace. We must be willing to give up our own privilege, our own comfort, our own desires, and even our own well being to work for wholeness. We must confess that we participate in systems that create inequality and destroy wholeness and change them. If our standard of Love is self sacrifice even unto death, then why do we have so much trouble paying a little more in taxes, taking time to listen to people, or giving up privilege?
Why? Because real peace requires the death of self, of ego, of selfishness.
And to paraphrase, we don’t want to give our lives to have peace, we want the other guy to give up his for us.