Tuesday, November 17, 2009
fighting for peace...
What does a handgun, a LGN-118 nuclear missile, and the children of God in Matthew 5:9 have in common? They are all called peacemakers. Is it any wonder we live in a time that is not aware fully of the meaning, or even feeling of peace?
The closest we can get to peace is by looking at a few passages given to us through Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God was called and prophesied to be the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6. A prince he was for he repeatedly through the gospels talked about his Kingdom. Even the place of his punishment, the costly cross testified to his kingship (on the cross was posted This is the King of the Jews). However, his life and ministry did not contain any royal treatment. His palace was often the outdoors where he did not even have a place to rest his head (Luke 9:58). His high court officials consisted of fishermen, extremists, and small time tax collectors. And his treasury was banked rolled by a few faithful local women. Yet we see his power and influence has surpassed beyond that of any Caesar, dictator, president, or any other prince or artist formerly known as prince. Also his kingdom still continues, despite all the great powers that have come and fallen away.
A Prince, Jesus is, but a Prince of Peace. This title of peace explains why the only military attempt by Jesus’ faithful entourage was during his arrest when Peter with sword in hand mangled the ear of Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, which was condemned by Jesus (John 18:10). And the most violent we see Jesus was when he flipped tables and drove out animals from the temple (John 2:12-22). Peacefulness is not just something Jesus demonstrates through a virtuous demeanor, Peace is a central part of Jesus’ life, ministry, and purpose (2:14). Therefore, pursuing peace goes beyond merely a characteristic attribute (although it does include this), but peace is a divine, inspired, moving, and working reality of the Kingdom of God.
Peace wasn’t easy for Jesus to do. In fact peace became a very violent endeavor. Jesus had a price on his head for his message of peace, a price that ended up being thirty silver coins collected by Judas Iscariot (Matthew 26:14-16). The disciples who carried the message of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 28:16-20) all also met similar fates (except perhaps John who was most likely in exile on Patmos). Pursuing the peace of God often means we become confronted with violence, but never do we confront with violence. So what does this mean for us?
We have our rights as citizens, we have the right to fight back to defend ourselves, we have the right to defend our country from ‘outsiders’, we have the right to preserve our lives according to the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. But what country, state, nation, province, city, kingdom, territory, or common wealth do we belong to? What is our first priority? Is it to city, state, or country? Or is our first priority to the Kingdom of God, to the Prince of Peace? How does this change our understanding of the “right of life and the pursuit of happiness.”
Again I do not know if I can provide all the answers, but these are the questions we need to ask and consider. If Jesus, the Prince of Peace is our Lord, that means he is our King, and we are now living according to the Kingdom of Heaven. How important is our life in the pursuit of peace? What about when our family is threatened, what about when our country is attacked? Where is our loyalty? Are we preserving the pursuit of happiness, or are we pursuing the Peace of Christ? What about Afghanistan, what about Iraq, Iran, that rundown neighborhood? The Prince of Peace was called the Christ which means messiah and a messiah is a liberating king. What is the Prince of Peace liberating us from?
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. - Mark 8:35