Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!
Some experts claim that the way to achieve true peace is to finish things rather than have unfinished business hanging over us. One person took this advice literally and found peace by finishing things they had started. They were very content after finishing … a bottle of wine, a packet of biscuits, a bar of chocolate and a strawberry cheesecake.
Of course, that is not what was meant! But equally we are aware that unfinished issues continue to cause unrest in our world. This November we will be marking Remembrance Sunday and 100 years since the end of World War One. This may well make us ask what peace means in a world where troubles persist, wars are repeated and people continue to be treated inhumanely by others. There is unfinished business.
Is peace possible?
Is our God a God of peace?
When we look at the Old Testament we can find a God who seems to instigate war and enable his people to revel in destroying others, or who punishes his chosen people for their sins by letting them be destroyed by other nations. Also, in the New Testament it is not all love and peace. In one passage Jesus tells us not to think he came to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). That of course has to be balanced with other passages that talk of peace and turning the other cheek. This is such a wide and complicated subject that I cannot begin to do it justice here, but as our verse from Psalm 85 above indicates, it’s not just about peace on its own: there has to be righteousness alongside peace, justice is part of peace. Sometimes it is Christian to fight for what is right, to stand up against injustice, be that to do with political rulers, trade issues, poverty, unfair benefit systems or whatever.
There are unfinished things that need sorting out.
Although complicated, and with no easy answers, I would encourage you try to think a bit more, as you prepare for Remembrance Sunday, about what peace means and how to let its lessons change your life for the future. Remembrance 100, which is part of the Hope movement, has been giving thoughts and prayers since 4 August for the 100 days leading up to Remembrance Sunday. Its not too late to look it up and let it help you as you seek to make sense of your experiences and beliefs about peace.
Whether we are white or red poppy wearers, pacifists or those who support military interventions, those who have experienced war or those who can’t imagine it, those who welcome refugees or those who feel we have to be more protective of our countries, may we each make sure we think it through and be at peace with what we believe, and respect and pray for each other in this.
And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are
good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honourable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.
And the God who gives peace will be with you.