Crossposted from The Search for Integrity
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear. He burns the chariots in the fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”
Jim Wallis likes to point out the ironic fact that many people trained in teaching Bible in their churches seem to have missed the thousands of scripture texts that speak of God’s special concern for the poor. Similarly, many who have attended evangelical churches could easily, based on the teaching they hear, gain the patently false impression that the Bible rarely speaks of peace, and that the few places where it does do so, it is with disapproval. They repeatedly hear just a handful of seemingly relevant texts: “I came not to bring peace, but a sword” (in which Jesus is actually speaking, not of armed conflict but of the danger his teaching is to traditional family values); “They have healed the wound of my people slightly, saying “Peace” when there is no peace” (Jeremiah‘s assessment of the false hopes being raised by false prophets who, more interested in profits than real security, were insisting that theBabylonian army would fold up and go away if only the people kept up their armed resistance a little longer); and perhaps the incident in the temple where Jesus physically disrupts the profitable business of those who were taking advantage of the religious sincerity of others by spilling their carefully counted money on the floor and driving their merchandise (animals destined for slaughter) from the temple courts.
But in fact there are hundreds of texts throughout the Bible that teach about peace, its source and its place in God’s plan for the world, and it’s time that Christians everywhere stop being afraid of them. Below is a very small sample.
I’ll start with one that should be held at the ready whenever someone takes the saying of Jesus (Matthew 24:6-7) that “there will be wars and rumours of wars; see that you be not troubled, for the end is not yet“ as proof that war is inevitable and will always be with us (which only makes sense if the end is always going to be “not yet“). Once too often I have heard someone put that out as a final argument against peacemaking, since “I believe the Bible.” Well, I believe the Bible, too, including:
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Words In Red
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51 Behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, ”Put your sword back into its place, for all those who take the sword will die by the sword.”
3 Go your ways. Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry no purse, nor wallet, nor sandals. Greet no one on the way. 5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, ”Peace be to this house.” 6 If a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
The Risen Christ’s Greeting : John 20:19-23, 26
19 When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were locked where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ”Peace be to you.”
20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.“ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! 23 Whoever’s sins you forgive, they are forgiven them. Whoever’s sins you retain, they have been retained.“
26 After eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the midst, and said, ”Peace be to you.”
A Legacy of Peace — John 14:27
27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
From the song of Zacharias, Luke 1:76-79
76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins,
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, Whereby the dawn from on high will visit us,
79 To shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death;
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
Peaceful community, Acts 2:42-47:
42 They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer. 43 Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together, and had all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. 46 Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved.
The gospel of peace : Romans 10:12-15
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich to all who call on him. 13 For, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? 15 And how will they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things”
Christ is our peace: Ephesians 2:14-17
14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in the flesh the hostility, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility thereby. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off and to those who were near.
The Kingdom of God: Romans 14:16-19
16 Then don’t let your good be slandered, 17 for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then, let us follow after things which make for peace, and things by which we may build one another up.
Love is the law — Romans 13:8-10
8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not give false testimony,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love doesn’t harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.
Old Testament texts:
The peaceable kingdom: Isaiah 11:1-10
1 And there will come a rod out of the broken tree of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will give fruit. 2 And the spirit of the Lord will beresting on him, the spirit of wisdom and good sense, the spirit of wise guiding and strength, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; 3 And he will not be guided in his judging by what he sees, or give decisions by the hearing of his ears: 4 But he will do right in the cause of the poor, and give wise decisions for those in the land who are in need; and the rod of his mouth will come down on the cruel, and with the breath of his lips he will put an end to the evil-doer. 5 And righteousness will be the cord of his robe, and good faith the band round his breast. 6 And the wolf will be living with the lamb, and the leopard will take his rest with the young goat; and the lion will take grass for food like the ox; and the young lion will go with the young ones of the herd; and a little child will be their guide. 7 And the cow and the bear will be friends while their young ones are sleeping together. 8 And the child at the breast will be playing by the hole of the snake, and the older child will put his hand on the bright eye of the poison-snake. 9 There will be no cause of pain or destruction in all my holy mountain: for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is covered by the waters. 10 And in that day, the eyes of the nations will be turned to the root of Jesse which will be lifted up as the flag of the peoples; and his resting-place will be glory.
The coming prince: Isaiah 9:5-7
5 For every boot of the man of war with his sounding step, and the clothing rolled in blood, will be for burning, food for the fire.
6 For to us a child has come, to us a son is given; and the government has been placed in his hands; and he has been named Wise Guide, Strong God, Father for ever, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his rule and of peace there will be no end, on the seat of David, and in his kingdom; to make it strong, supporting it with wise decision and righteousness, now and for ever. By the fixed purpose of the Lord of armies this will be done.
As I said, from Genesis to Revelation there are texts, stories, commandments, prophecies and exhortations as well as illustrations and examples of peacemaking, the ministry of reconciliation. I challenge the reader to find more, and post your favorite one in a comment. The search for integrity is, after all, a peacemaking endeavor as well. We must be at peace with God, and within ourselves, with our neighbor, and with our enemy, in order to fully manifest the gospel of peace, the peace which is the fruit of the Spirit, and be guarded by the peace of God which is beyond understanding. Go ahead. Find your favorite peace passage and post it here, or on your own blog. Let’s change the discourse on peace, and rediscover its foundation in the way of Christ.