Peace on Earth: 3 Ways to Make Peace in Our Nation
Violence, hatred, and division are growing in our country. We read the headlines and feel frightened, horrified, and helpless:
· Tragic and/or Mysterious Deaths of Citizens and Cops
· Trump/Hillary/Bernie Supporters Attack at Campaign Rally.
· Nazi White Supremacists March in Charlottesville.
We wonder who is going to stop all this senseless hatred.
We Americans love to murmur about the broken promises of politicians in Washington. And rightfully so. It appears to us that politicians are either incompetent or completely lacking the courage to govern, neglecting the duties they have been elected to perform. But many expect those in government to fix the violence, because isn’t it their job to take care of all this unrest?
But our government officials merely keep the peace; they do not create it. Hence why they are called Peace-Keepers.
So then who is actually responsible for resolving all this hatred and unrest in the country? To fix the problem, we must understand where hatred begins.
The Root of Hatred
Man cannot have a lasting and true peace with one another until they have a lasting and true peace with God.
We cannot uproot hatred through mere political parties or policies, societal correctness, retribution, education, or even financial or medical assistance. The problem runs deeper, for our true enemy isn’t our fellow human beings – or systems, injustice, or poverty- but against Satan and the sin within our own hearts. Man has rebelled against the God of love and peace. And because we have made war with Him, we make war with each other. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight” (James 4:1-2) Hatred comes from a rebellious heart. We need God to change us.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, created peace between God and man by defeating sin and death. He both satisfied God’s anger toward our rebellion and conquered our rebellious nature toward God. And some day He will return to set up a kingdom on earth with only those that have accepted His peace, and there will be no violence or hatred or division anymore.
Discovering the Cure
You may be thinking, “That’s a great doctrine, but are we simply to hide in our houses and churches until He comes back?” Not in the least.
Perhaps you have heard the famous verse from Matthew: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” While our government officials may be the Peace-keepers, we Christians are the Peace-MAKERS.
Our Heavenly Father entrusts His children with the task of reconciliation. Reconciliation causes two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement, taking two things that are hostile and at war with one another and bringing peace. God equips us as His ambassadors with both the Gospel of love, peace, and righteousness and the Spirit of Wisdom who empowers us to deal with complicated and difficult issues. But how can we specifically act as peacemakers? How do we make peace?
1. We need to seek to reconcile the lost to God.
We need to open our mouths, plead from our hearts, and share His Gospel. Once a soul gives up his rebellion against God, God transforms him into a new creature who is able to love, forgive, and deny selfish desires. If our nation were filled with citizens who have the peace of God within them, we would start seeing the power of Christ’s peace in our nation once again.
2. We need to personally reflect God’s forgiveness and longsuffering toward each other.
Some Christians display an angry or hateful heart, feeling justified due to the hurtful and unjust acts others have done to them. But vengeance, back-biting, bitterness, and cold-hearts are unforgiveable responses for those who have received the forgiving grace of Jesus. We cannot love God and hate our fellow man.
In fact, many Christians have added to the destructive circle of division and hate. For instance, Trump supporters refuse to work with those that didn’t vote for Trump. Those that didn’t vote for Trump despise those that did. Each yelling or rejecting one another for no other reason than to punish one another for their choice. While it is important to learn from this past election, this stubborn bitterness does not accomplish anything, and it reflects poorly upon our faith.
But as Christ-followers we need to do much more than merely tolerate and smile at those who are against us. We must actively love them. Doing good for those that do evil, we must love our enemies and pray for them. When others hit, taunt, and spit on us, we shouldn’t just walk away, rather we must pursue them with the love and truth of Christ. This peaceful response is only possible through the power of the Spirit inside us.
“Darkness cannot cast out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot cast out hate. Only love can do that.” (Martin Luther King Jr)
3. We need to get out of our comfort zones and address the mess
Often we as Christians can spend all of our time grousing to each other about how others are not reacting to an injustice or issue properly, but do nothing to correct the problem themselves. For instance, we boldly affirm among ourselves that babies should not be aborted because a mother feels embarrassed or unable to take care of a child financially. The solution to an unexpected pregnancy or expense is not murder. But Christians should not only speak out against such practices, but also come alongside those that are in need and hurting to help strengthen, restore, share the love of Christ, and assist them in their new journey of motherhood and fatherhood. Only through acting as Christ would toward human need can we see true healing in our nation.
But what about the issues of race in our country? I may not know all the specific answers to solving racial divides. But one thing is certain: we are not going to solve them by spending all night watching Netflix or staying within our homogenous neighborhoods, schools, and churches. We are not acting as peacemakers when we briefly shake our heads at another shooting in the news and then continue about our day and personal concerns. We will not unite the divisions in our country by neglecting to train our children in truth and maturity and then sending them to schools and universities that teach godless philosophy, where change comes through riotous force to silence the opposition.
Instead, we must be innovative and intentional in creating brotherhood among us.
We will need to:
· Reach out to the needy in love
· Take ownership of at least our local justice systems and law enforcement.
· Prepare our children to be mature ambassadors for Christ: Instill in them the truth. Teach them that they are overcomers, not victims. Ingrain in them that we all are image-bearers of God and that their enemies should be loved, not hated or ignored.
· Unite and bond with Christians despite professional, denominational, racial, and cultural differences
· And seek to redeem systems and people broken by the sins of others and themselves.
It will take persistence. It will take effort. It will take compassion.
If Christians are not creating peace within our nation, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. We will continue to see more hatred, more unrest, and more instability threatening to tear our nation apart.
We will only see healing when God’s people fulfill their duties to the office they hold: The Ministers of Reconciliation. Peacemakers. And only then can we really call ourselves children of God.