Tuesday, November 22, 2016

beware false peace

I've been thinking about peacemaking recently - what it looks like, how one goes about it. There's obviously been a lot of talk about peacemaking since the election, too, within churches and communities, hence the thinking on it.
I think, though, that we need to be careful about the narrative and visuals we get in our heads when it comes to using the verse in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

I think for many of us, when we hear the word "peacemakers", we visualize those people who we view as bridges - bringing two opposing sides together at the table, asking them to lay down weapons, to make amends (reparations or compensation). This type of peacemaking is important.

But sometimes, the job of peacemakers is to disrupt a false peace, or to keep it from taking root. We know what is meant by false peace, right? Simple absence of open conflict. Sweeping things under the rug. Ignorance, willful or not, of that which is really happening. It's the type of "peace" that looks neat and tidy and peaceful to anyone on the outside, but is full of decay on the inside.

As an example, Jesus was this type of peacemaker, I believe, when he "made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables..." (John 2). At first blush, his actions seem incredibly unpeaceful to my white, Western eyes - I wonder, sometimes, how I would have responded if I'd stood witness there. Almost surely, in some of the communities I've lived in, this would count as a "disturbance of the peace". Today, the police might have been called. He may have even been arrested. And yet, and yet, Jesus always knew exactly what he was doing. He saw the situation for what it was. This was no place of peace, at least not anymore - it had become a "den of robbers" (Luke 19). People were being excluded from worshiping his Father in that space, or at least having to bear the burden of overcoming financial and ethnic exclusion in order to do so, and that enraged him. To those people, those who were excluded, it was an act of disrupting false peace - an unburdening, a defeat of oppression, a breaking down of walls.

After the beatitudes in Matthew 5, Jesus addresses some specific sins - anger, lust, etc. He's clear that it's not just murder or adultery (outwardly obvious actions) that are sinful, but the heart attitudes that lead to such actions that are sinful as well. I wonder - in what ways may we be settling for a false peace within many of our churches and communities? Our homes?

Absence of conflict does not equal peace. May we have eyes open to root out false peace.

1 comment:

  1. You've said so much here friend, so much truth that needs to be heard.

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