Take the way that leads to peaceDear Friends,
Once again my heart is breaking as I have watched with horror and sadness the reports and pictures coming out of Syria. As I have seen the rows of the dead – men, women, and children – I hear the words of Jesus saying, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)
And I admit that my first reaction – a very human, emotional, and understandable reaction – is one of retaliation.
How else can we make it clear that this kind of incredible violence against some of the most innocent among us is wrong and cannot be tolerated? How else can we stop this kind of senseless killing?
And then I remember other words of Jesus which say, “You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)
And I realize, once again, how Jesus’ message still turns the wisdom of the world upside down. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, seems to make sense. You took from me, and now I take from you. And yet, Jesus understood that a world where retaliation and revenge are the norm, can only breed more violence – more retaliation – more hatred – and more brokenness. And the cycle of killing and violence continues.
So – once again – I have been forced to dig deeply into my own faith and beliefs, and to consider how I must live out the words of Christ in a world that constantly pushes me to do otherwise.
And my faith tells me this: violence cannot be the answer. Christ came to this world as the Prince of Peace. I am not wise enough, nor politically savvy enough, nor educated enough to know exactly what the answer will be, but I do know that there must be another way. A way that leads to peace. A way that brings us closer to the vision of a world at one, as we read in Ephesians:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace. ... So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:13-14a, 19)
So friends, as Christians and as followers of the Prince of Peace, let us do all we can to be peacemakers – in our lives, in our communities, and in our world.
Let us pray constantly and deeply:
For the people of Syria, whose loved ones have been killed or injured, and whose lives are most deeply affected by this time of violence;
For the leaders of our nation, and nations across the world, that their wisdom will guide us to a better future and a world at peace;
For our families and loved ones who put their lives in harm’s way everyday, as they defend us and do their part to keep our world safe;
That the vision of a world where there are no more dividing lines – no more strangers – no more “us and them” – might become a reality.
In the words of the Gospel of John - the 14th chapter:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you."
May it be so, dear Lord – may it be so.
With you in the Work of Christ –