ABC Extra – Peace and Passivity

December 20, 2010 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held a series of two-week long “Bed-Ins” in Amsterdam and Montreal as a way to protest the ongoing Vietnam War and promote peace.  They simply stayed in bed for their honeymoon, a place they felt was “peaceful,” in hopes of watching peace reign not only in their hotel room, but in the world.  It was during his second “Bed-In” in Montreal that John Lennon penned his famous single, “Give Peace A Chance.”  The lyrics are strange, but memorable: “Everybody’s talking about Bagism, Madism, Dragism, Shagism, Ragism, Tagism, this -ism, that -ism.  All we are saying is give peace a chance.”  Despite his plea, the war did not end until some six years later.

The popular conception of peace can often be deduced from the context in which the word is used.  Contextually, John and Yoko wanted to “give peace a chance.”  That is, they thought that peace, if allowed to take its due course, would eventually carry the day.  And so they took a chance on peace.  And they lost.  The Vietnam War did not end when they wanted.  And many wars have since taken its place.  Peace is not best left to chance.

Jesus conceives of peace in a wholly different manner.  Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).  In a world that seeks only to chance peace, Jesus wants something else:  He wants to make peace.  This is radically different from John and Yoko’s vision of peace.  For their vision of peace was essentially passive.  If people just “gave peace a chance,” peace might carry the day.  Jesus’ vision of peace, however, leaves nothing to chance.  Thus, Jesus’ vision of peace is essentially active.  Where there is no peace, Jesus calls on His followers to make peace.  For Jesus knows that, in a sinful, fallen, broken world like ours, peace must be made, not just allowed.

This active vision of peace is reflected in our text from this past weekend.  The apostle Paul writes to two feuding women:  “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).  When Euodia’s and Syntyche’s peace is shattered by a feud, Paul does not just sit around, ready to “give peace a chance”;  rather, he actively seeks to reconcile the differences between these two women so that peace may result.  He “entreats” them.

Paul, of course, is simply following the example of his Savior who, when Jews and Gentiles were estranged because of their adherence to God’s Law, abolished “the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:16-17).  Christ, through the cross, makes peace, both with God and with others, and gives us that peace by faith.  We, in turn, are called to reflect Christ’s effort at peace in our own lives, as Paul elsewhere writes, “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19).

What kind of premium do you put on peace?  Are you content merely to “give peace a chance,” or are you more active in your efforts at peace?  When you get into a fight with someone else, do you go seek them out to reconcile with them, or do you wait for them to come to you?  When you see a marriage in trouble, do you actively speak God’s Word into that couple’s life, or do you simply stay away, scared to confront this couple’s sin?  God’s peace is not a passive idea, it’s an active reality. Finally, this active reality is embodied by Jesus who actively lived, suffered, and died so that we may have peace.  May you actively pursue peace for the sake of others…and for the sake of yourself.

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ABC Extra – Repeating the Past Weekend Extra – “Departing ____ Peace”

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