And Let it Begin With Me

The Advent call to “Prepare the way for the Lord” is a call to conversion (Luke 3:4-6). Anti-shalom marks our systems, structures, and institutions.  Injustice is business as usual. War and rumors of war haunt us. We are anxious people. We long for the peace of God to reign—in our hearts, in our lives, and in our world. But how should we live?

Let There Be Peace on Earth by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller describes how the call (and hope) for peace compels us to live differently:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
Let There Be Peace on Earth
The peace that was meant to be

With God as our Father
Brothers all are we
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.

With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow
To take each moment and live
Each moment in peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me

The peace of God will one day reign on the earth, but to take up our role as Divine image-bearers means we live out God’s shalom now. This is how we welcome the Prince of Peace and allow the peace of Christ to reign in our hearts (Col. 3:15) But how do we do this?

First, we need to become a people of prayer. Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians is apt for these anxious times:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

To pray is not to gloss over struggle, conflict, worry, and pain. It is to bring these things to God and invite His presence into them.

Committing to bringing everything anxious thought to God in prayer requires self-awareness about the things which are troubling us. This is easier if our anxiety is a troubling diagnosis or financial worry, but sometimes we have to probe our hearts a little more. We can’t present what we can’t name. When we are able to, our hopes and heartache laid bare before God, we provide the context for the peace of God to enter us more and more.

Secondly, in a world were darkness yet reigns, we are called to a stance of resistance. Peace is not just an inner-state, but a life which accords with the purposes of God for the world. This means as we follow Jesus, we learn to oppose anti-shalom in every form we encounter it.

Walter Wink notes three general responses to evil, ” (1) passivity, (2) violent opposition and (3) the third way of militant non-violence articulated by Jesus” (Jesus and Non-Violence, Fortress Press, 2003, 12). Jesus’ “third way” is not the middle path between revolution and passive fatalism. It is committing to shalom—well being and justice for alland understanding that ends and means are convertible terms (MLK, Gandhi). This is not passive, it is the revolution. Anti-Shalom may be our lived-reality but the kingdom of God grows, as wheat among tares now, even in the shadow of Empire. Resistance is fertile.

Let it begin with me, but it can’t end there. The Peace of God calls us to not only cast all our cares on Him but to allow His shalom to form us to respond to the anxiety and pain felt by our neighbors, our community, our country and our world.

(Image: Flower Thrower by Bansky)

 

 

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matichuk

I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

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