A Peace That Interrupts Injustice

These are emotionally exhausting times, that often leave me feeling at such a loss. But I was encouraged this evening. Coincidence perhaps, but I took it as a prophetic word. I bookmarked this in my prayer book back in January, as it had given me some encouragement when I was feeling hopeless back then. I opened it today (as the date of the passage was dated August). I’ll just share the first few paragraphs here. But it feels almost like a higher power knew this was what I needed to read for this particular time:

“Peace is not about the absence of conflict; it’s also about the presence of justice. Martin Luther King Jr. even distinguished between ‘the devil’s peace’ and God’s true peace. A counterfeit peace exists when people are pacified or distracted or so beat up and tired of fighting that all seems calm. But true peace does not exist until there is justice, restoration, forgiveness. Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.

“Peace is about being able to recognize in the face of the oppressed our own faces, and in the hands of the oppressors our own hands. Peace, like most beautiful things, begins small…

“Peacemaking begins with what we can change – ourselves. But it doesn’t end there. We are to be peacemakers in a world riddled with violence. That means interrupting violence with imagination, on our streets and in the world. This peace that is ‘not like any way the empire brings peace’ is rooted in the nonviolence of the cross, where we see a Savior who loves his enemies so much he died for them. Peace is often not our instinct, which is why it must be cultivated and grown in us. Even Jesus’ key disciple, Peter, picks up his sword when the soldiers approach Jesus. Jesus’ response is brilliant: he scolds Peter, and then he heals the wounded persecutor, only to be dragged away and hung on a Roman cross. If ever there were a case for ‘just war’ or justified violence to protect the innocent, Peter had it. Yet Jesus rebukes his logic of the sword.

“The early Christians said, ‘When Jesus disarmed Peter, he disarmed every Christian.’ For hundreds of years, Christians were never seen carrying swords, and they followed the way of the Prince of Peace even unto death, loving their enemies and blessing those who cursed them. It doesn’t look like a good strategy for running an empire, but it is the narrow way that leads to life. Undoubtedly, it doesn’t always seem to ‘work.’ As we look at history, and even as we read the Scriptures, there seems to be evidence that violence has worked at times and failed at times, just as nonviolence has worked at times and failed at times. In the end, the question is, Which looks most like Jesus? For we are called not just to be successful but to be faithful to the way of the cross, even unto death. The way of the cross did not seem to work on Friday, but the promise is that Sunday is coming. In the end, Love wins.

I had an unexpectedly refreshing day today. We had a relaxing beach day with the family fleeing from Afghanistan that we’re supporting. Christian, Muslim, White, Asian, Afghan, and so many other ways we were all so different. Yet we just got to hang out, share food that we had all brought, and have a great time while our kids played in the sand and waves together. We can’t even all speak the same language yet. But kindness, laughter, sharing food, spending time together in friendship – that’s all universal. One passerby actually stopped to take a photo of us, because he had never seen anything like it and ‘liked what we were doing’ (though we did have to ask him to delete the photo). But it reminded me that the little things we do can have an impact around us in ways we don’t even understand. Every word, every action we take that reflects light, no matter how small, still helps to push against the darkness. Change…peace…we need to remember that it is possible. And it starts with and within ourselves.

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