In a world where violence is promoted as the solution to conflict, Jesus teaches us that God’s children are to be those who live in and offer peace.
We live in a time when peace seems absent. If God’s people are controlled by and come under this lack of peace, they will not have inner peace. And if that is the case, how can we offer peace to others? Jesus, himself, has given us peace and tools that will equip us to share this peace. The key is that we align ourselves with the peace of Christ instead of being pulled away by cheap imitations.
Sandra tells of how a moth navigates by the light of a moon, but gets confused by porch lights. In the same way we can get distracted away from the “moon” of Christ’s peace. Paul pointed out this in Ephesians 3:16-19, when he prayed that we will be rooted in God’s love. God’s love is to be the source of our peace, but most of us don’t live in this fullness and therefore get pulled in by cheap porch lights.
Sandra helps us understand the meaning of the “moon” of Jesus’ peace by unpacking the meaning of peace in the world. We live a world full of cheap light bulbs, where people try to build peace on a faulty foundation. he message of violence is like the air we breathe; it is everywhere and we don’t even know it so we assume that conflict and violence are just the way things have to be.
The violence in the world is driven by the principalities and powers (Eph 6:12), which basically means corrupt worldly domination systems, institutions and traditions that are built upon sinful foundations, forces of violence and injustice, and the demonic. To be peacemakers requires us to be aware of the reality of the principalities and powers that drive the unseen movement of violence. The path to victory in the conflict need not be resolved through violence. Jesus has given us other tools.
To embrace these other tools, we must recognize that people are not the enemy, according to Ephesians 6:12. While there will be conflict in this world, our enemies are the principalities and powers. Yet we constantly make others the enemy, primarily by dehumanizing them. Sandra loops us back to the series on racial reconciliation to show how entire groups of people are dehumanized through racism, thereby justifying violence. The other group is “team evil” and we are “team good.” It is an us vs. them battle, where we are constantly looking for groups we can label as “team evil” so that we can feel better about ourselves.
We do not need to identify “bad guys” in order to be “good guys.” Our identity is not found in what we are not, but in who we follow, Christ.
This leads us to the development of practices that will result in peace in “your” world, which is crucial for bringing peace to world full of conflict. Consider these options:
- Rest in the reality that you don’t need a “bad guy.” Start praying for people whom you have previously identified as a part of “team evil.”
- Do exercises for peace. For instance, for many it is helpful to turn off the news. Or find a space for about 10 minutes per day to read and be quiet. Or find a safe place to talk through what you are feeling with a trusted friend.
- Remember that love relationships are the place to start. Love for others is essential.
- Think this: “If I had lived your life, would I do what you do?”
The final thing that can bring peace to your inner and outer world is to “notice your elephant.” This is based on previous sermons by Greg and the book The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. The point is that while we think logic drives our beliefs and actions, in reality our actions and beliefs are driven by our emotions. The emotions are represented by an elephant. The rider of the elephant is our logic. The reasoning behind our decisions and stances do not drive the elephant, rather they are a result of the choices of that elephant. If we are going to bring peace, we must be aware of the elephant that is driving us.
God has called us to navigate according to the moon of God’s peace, not the porch lights of violence that parade themselves as short-term solutions to conflict. Let us move toward being peacemakers.
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