A so-called "friend" on facebook posted a message about the wonderful speech President Carter delivered at James Madison University back in the fall. He gave her reason to announce, "Peace IS possible!" Since she claims to be a follower of Jesus, I couldn't believe her comment, and proceeded to leave her a message concerning her posting. I told her that peace is not possible in this world, according to Jesus. His own words proclaim in Matthew 10:34-36, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'" I John 5:20 declares, "the whole world is under the control of the evil one." Either this person does not read her Bible, or she is one of those who delves into cafeteria Christianity, picking and choosing the verses that give her warm fuzzies, while discarding those she finds unsavory.
Consider, if you will, how when one realistically views one's own family, the impossibility of peace reigning even there! Then magnify that as you consider the seven billion human inhabitants living on our privileged planet!
Thomas Becket delivered T. S. Eliot's Christmas sermon in the play Murder in the Cathedral:
But think for a while on the meaning of this word "peace." Does it seem strange to you that the angels should have announced Peace, when ceaselessly the world has been stricken with War and the fear of War? Does it seem to you that the angelic voices were mistaken, and that the promise was a disappointment and a cheat?
Reflect now, how our Lord Himself spoke of Peace. He said to His disciples "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." Did He mean peace as we think of it: the kingdom of England at peace with its neighbours, the barons at peace with the King, the householder counting over his peaceful gains, the swept hearth, his best wine for a friend at the table, his wife singing to the children? Those men, His disciples, knew no such things: they went forth to journey afar, to suffer by land and sea, to know torture, imprisonment, disappointment, to suffer death by martyrdom. What then did He mean? If you ask that, remember then that He said also, "Not as the world gives, give I unto you." So then, He gave to His disciples peace, but not peace as the world gives. *
"Will you take one of these parcels and pray that you will be guided to give the clothes to those most in need?"
So, with one of the unopened bundles sent from Christians in England, the merchant set off for Macao, China. Immediately upon arriving there, he went out to buy some food. Coming down the street he met a man who looked ill and starved, yet carried himself proudly in spite of the fact that all he wore on his emaciated body were a sleeveless waistcoat and a pair of ladies' panties!
The merchant stared, then gasped. This man had once been one of China's most prominent men.
"Sir, would you come and eat with me?" inquired the merchant.
"Thank you, I accept," was the dignified reply.
Together they went to a small eating house and the merchant ordered a simple meal.
"I recognized you as you came down the street," the merchant remarked as the meal progressed. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"
"I believe you are a Christian. Will you pray with me?"
The merchant bowed his head, and very simply the nobleman said, "O Lord, thank You for answering the first two parts of my prayer. You have brought me to safety; You have given me something to eat. Now please answer the third part and give me something to wear so that I can get employment and so keep my self-respect."
"I believe God has answered that prayer already," the merchant said eagerly. "Come home with me now."
Together they opened the bundle which had been sent, with loving prayers, from London and there, right on top, lay something which had very seldom come into our hands - a man's complete suit! Rarely was there ever an entire matching suit!
Weeks later those who had sent the bundle of clothes from London, received a letter from Macao, China, bearing the signature of a man who had been one of China's wealthiest and most influential men before the Communists came into power and robbed him of home, money and family.
In that letter were many grateful thanks for the clothes he had received, and through which he had been able to gain employment. Now he was hoping to save a little money so he could help his wife and family to escape and join him once more.
He told how he, a prominent Buddhist, had been stripped of all he possessed, then thrown into prison. But it was there he had come to know Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord.
He had lost all in this world, but he had peace and joy in his heart because he was a Christian, and nothing the enemy could do would take that from him.
~excerpt from GLADYS AYLWARD with Christine Hunter
“Realize that the aim of the Prince of Peace is not peace with unbelief and disobedience. Those are the enemies that must be destroyed, lest they destroy. When the amnesty of Jesus is despised, division is inevitable. What we meet in the biting language of Christ is a form of love that corresponds with the real world of corruption, the dullness of our hearts and the magnitude of what is at stake in our choices. If there were no great evils, no deaf hearts and no eternal consequences, perhaps the only fitting forms of love would be a... soft touch and tender words. But such a world does not kill the Son of God and hate his disciples.” ~John Piper
"There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
As stated in Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace." Within the body of Christ, peace is possible, of course, if we are willing to surrender all authority to Jesus. Face facts folks, that's a big "if." By the way, the person on facebook, who sings in her church choir, claiming to be my friend, deleted my comment on peace. How ironic that immediately after professing how peace is possible, as one key is pressed, she demonstrates how unlikely that possibility is with one swift stroke of her hand.
*The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1952, pp. 198-99.
Compassionate Friends a Decade+ Later
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