God of Peace in a Violent World

by | Oct 19, 2015 | 7 Peacemakers

H02118Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).
The news media reminds us over and over of the violence, Middle East extremists pummeling the people, refugees struggling and dying to find settlement and rest, shootings at colleges and universities, hoarding of wealth by the wealthy impoverishing more people, and on and on.  Anxiety rises.  Returning for more news, we grow despairing, hardened, or both.
We pray for the end of conflict.  Anyone with compassion must wish for that.  We also pray for harmony within ourselves, for something to do to assuage our guilt or relieve our worry that such horrors could happen to us.
Amid all this, many sensitive souls abandon God.  How can a loving God preside over the multiplying injustices and cruelties the media reports?  How can a judging God waste time on our petty misdemeanors and allow such horrible felonies to go unchecked?
I no longer believe in the god who hovers above all this, too perfect to get involved in our tragic dilemmas, but who cares just enough to grade us in the test of earthly life and mete out over-the-top consequences.  I am in good company.  Jesus did not believe in that god either.
I know this because Jesus healed on the Sabbath (e.g., John 5:2-18).  The god above it all wants the peace of order, meaning don’t take chances with the rules; just obey them to the letter and make an A.  Jesus believed in the God of the Sabbath, and observing Sabbath means receiving peace, shalom, wholeness and fullness of life.  In violating the Sabbath of the god above-it-all, he ushered in the Sabbath of the true God, the Sabbath of delight in the blessings of creation and the abundance God offers to all.
He reached out, crossed lines, got in trouble, and eventually suffered the most over-the-top penalty from representatives of above-it-all gods of both home country monotheists and occupying pagans.  By ushering in the Sabbath, he made a mess and stirred up controversy. And in doing so, he made peace.
How I want the end of conflict!  How I pray for God to cease the violence with a decisive announcement, “Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46)  And how God wants that!  God is here among us, suffering with us, with the lame man who wants to walk, with the three-year old refugee boy literally dying of exhaustion on the trek to nowhere, with the parents who just learned that their college freshman just got fatally shot for no reason.
That’s what it means that God’s Son came in the flesh and suffered all the horrors. That’s what it means that Christ broke the Sabbath rules to bring in Sabbath healing and shalom.  That God invites you to follow, to participate with your suffering in God’s suffering, to participate through acts of mercy, however small, in God’s great work of healing.  Do not retreat in despair and unbelief.  Search your daily encounters and decisions, and find your invitation.  Join God.  Make peace.  You may get in trouble, but blessings will abound.

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