The inseparable bond….
When you think of two inseparable things what comes to mind? Two people who are deeply in love? Hamburgers and catsup? Two singers like Simon & Garfunkle? Comedians like Abbot and Costello? While all of these examples seem inseparable, that’s not always the case. People who are deeply in love sometimes go their separate ways, Simon and Garfunkle made beautiful music together but they eventually split up, Abbot and Costello did some of the most memorable comedy routines of all times (think “who’s on first?”) but they split, too and my granddaughters put ranch dressing on their hamburgers instead of catsup.
The answer - PEACE AND JUSTICE. There is no way that peace can be established or sustained without true justice. Without justice, whoever is being treated unjustly will eventually react in some disruptive way thereby disturbing the so-called “peace”. In Psalm 85:11 it says “Love and truth will meet, justice and peace have embraced”. This comes after 10 verses of remembering God’s favor to the people and begging God to forgive them of their sins. Biblical scholars believe this psalm was written in the 5th century B.C. when Israel was continuing to return from exile. So for at least 2,500 years there has been some understanding of the link between justice and peace.
But that is really quite obvious, isn’t it? Even in the home, when two children are playing if one of them has all of the toys and the other has none, peace won’t prevail for very long. In the workplace if one person is treated favorably and the others are treated harshly it won’t be long before there is resentment and anger shown to the special employee and to the boss. You have probably seen situations in your family, your school, your job and your neighborhood that become disruptive because a person, or a group of people, perceive that they are not being treated the same as others. It makes you wonder - if we can’t even keep the peace at home and in the neighborhood, how will we ever attain peace in the world?!
In my limited experience, peace MUST begin in the human heart. If we as individuals have unrest, anger, and resentment guiding our days, we will contribute to the lack of peace in the world. If we are always on the brink of becoming hostile and enraged, we have the same type of heart as those engaging in unjust wars around the globe - the only difference is degree.
So, what do we do? I think we look at examples of those who throughout history have proven to be bringers of peace to places of great injustice. Think about Martin Luther King. In the most nonviolent and loving ways he led marches to draw attention to the terrible systems of injustice that were aimed squarely at the African-American peoples. How about Mahatma Gandhi? He led passive and peaceful demonstrations in India until the country was granted freedom from Great Britain.
But in the end, we’re Christians and we need to look at the words of Jesus Christ when it comes to deciding how to live in this world. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives very clear instructions on just how to treat aggressors and “enemies” when He says: “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your heavenly Father.” (Mt 5:43-45) Isn’t that a TOUGH teaching?! But all throughout the ‘Sermon’ Jesus is challenging His followers to see the world through God’s eyes. Jesus reveals God’s plan for peace not only in His ministry and preaching but most evidently in the way He suffered and died for us. Jesus could have easily avoided His arrest, trial and conviction. He could have destroyed all of those who were trying to execute Him - after all, He is GOD. But that’s not what He did. He died a painful and humiliating death so that we could someday live in peace.
What can you do? Check your own ‘heart’. Are you angry or easily driven to hostile actions? Pray that God will give you peace and patience. Do you hold unforgiveness, resentment and rage in your life? Ask God to assist you in overcoming those sins. But most of all, notice where there is injustice in your own ‘world’ and then get to work making peace prevail through true justice. Then you, too, will be called “children of your father in heaven”.