Peace on Earth
“Peace on earth” is easy to say, but hard to make a reality. Peace is not simply the absence of conflict. When humans are involved, there is inevitably going to be conflict. Peace is the absence of injustice, the absence of hate, the absence of selfishness, and the absence of wishing harm on others. When put like this it seems that gaining peace on earth is impossible. Peace will not come from wishful thinking or from disregarding or ignoring the current reality of abuse, hostility, corruption, division, and hate rampant in our world. Peace making is hard work.
Peace starts with me. There are so many bullies out there (both people and systems), so we may be tempted to choose one, take them out, and then move on to the next. But blaming everyone else for the absence of peace is not going to fix it. I first have to fix myself. I only have control over what I do, and this control only goes so far. There is a self-centered inclination within my human heart that many times has a hard time seeking the good of others. Until I fix my selfish heart, I will not have peace within my own soul and will not be able to make any peace. But guess what? I can’t fix myself. I can improve myself; I can move through steps to recover from habits and addictions; and I can even become a nicer person, but I can’t ultimately fix myself.
I share the disorder of every human being: a sinful heart. I am incapable of seeking the well-being of others without submitting to the purposes of God for me. Even when I do right by others, I usually am in it for selfish reasons. So here goes, I’m just going to say it. I need God’s grace to enable me to be open to God’s purposes for me (and all humanity for that matter). Only then can I have peace with God and peace with myself. God’s grace is always “with” me, but it is not effective “in” and “through” me until I repent of my sinful ways and allow God to transform me. It is only then that I can start making peace on earth. My act of confession and repentance is just the start of fixing myself. As God forgives, heals my heart, and puts His Spirit within me, I find myself at the trailhead to a long journey of grace. God goes with me on this journey to work on my inside so what happens on the outside is more aligned with God’s purposes.
When I start this journey, I become part of a community – the people of God. As a community we become more others centered, looking after other’s needs ahead of our own. We begin to advocate (with purer motives) for those without a voice as they struggle against injustice. We can begin to work together to change human systems which do not seek equal justice for all. We, as the people of God, can help bring God’s Kingdom to earth.
If we all do our part, we will cooperate with God’s activity to bring peace on earth. May it be so.