In the 1990 motion picture, “I Come in Peace”, Dolph Lungren plays a vice cop who takes down Talec, an intergalactic drug dealer harvesting human addicts to make drugs for users on his own planet. I saw parts of this
movie on late night cable years ago. It is as bad as it sounds. Talec would say to his victims, “I come in peace,” giving Lungren’s character the epic, climactic line, “And you go in pieces A–H—,” as he destroys the alien with his own weapon.
Our working definition of peace is “the absence of war or conflict,” but the concept of peace in the Bible is far richer than this. It connotes wholeness and completeness. The opposite of peace is not war but brokenness. The Bible tells us (and Dolph illustrates) the opposite of peace is brokenness. We came in peace, then all went to pieces.
The opening chapters of Genesis describe our world’s movement from wholeness to brokenness. Each day of creation in Genesis 1, God calls good. but when the heavens and earth are created–sea, sky and earth and everything which fills them–God sees all he is made and it is tov meod, very good (Genesis 1: 31). In the next chapter when the Adam meets the companion whom God had fashioned from his side, he says:
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23).
This man and woman lived naked and unashamed (Gen 2:25), nurtured in a garden, under God’s care. Then everything breaks down.
Genesis 3 describes how brokenness became the new normal:
- Brokenness in our relationship with God. Human beings did the one thing God told them not too and Adam could no longer walked with God without shame (Gen 3:6).
- Personal brokenness. Humankind began to perceive our nakedness and lack (Gen: 3-7).
- Brokenness with creation. We no longer experience nature as a cultivated garden, but a dangerous, difficult place full of pain (Gen 3:16-19)
- Brokenness in our relationship with one another. We see this subtly at first. The woman is named Eve (Genesis 3:20) and defined by her role as mother instead of in mutual sharing (as in Genesis 2:23) By the time we get to Genesis 4 we have violence and murder, brother against brother.
This is the beginning of our story. Advent begins the Christian year focusing us on the middle–the time when the triune God acted decisively in human history to make peace with God possible. Jesus was born on this earth–our God in human flesh–to heal the chasm in our relationship with God. This is why he came and what he accomplished.
His coming also planted seeds of wholeness.As we trust in Jesus and walk in right relationship with God, he heals us and makes us whole once more, he heals our relationships, and makes us agents of restoration, reconciliation and care. Yes there is much which is still broken: we are an antagonistic and apathetic people, rejecting God, hating ourselves, killing one another and misusing the earth. But the seeds are there, there is a trajectory toward wholeness (peace). When Christ returns to the earth all that is broken will be restored and we will seea new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1): a peace far better than bad sci-fi.
We are in pieces. Give to us Your Peace.