8 I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. 10 Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. 12 The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. 13 Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps. Psalm 85.8-13 NIV
The picture above is one I took standing near the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea this fall. I’ve been thinking about peace a lot after that trip.
God longs to bring peace to all people. That is an undeniable truth found throughout Scripture. As hard as it may be to write and hear, we are oftentimes the ones standing in the way of peace. For we desire peace only if it fits our lifestyle. Oh, we often talk as if we yearn for peace but when the rubber meets the road we want peace only on our terms.
We want peace without having to offer forgiveness for the injustices we suffered. We want peace without having to reduce our pattern of consumption. We want peace only if it means we can stay in control or in the majority. Until then what we really want is to “win” the battle and force the other side to accept our conditions for a cease fire. And that is always what it is. A cease fire and not truly peace.
But what if God’s peace is only achieved by the strong becoming weak; the rich becoming poor; the leaders becoming servants; or the truth bearers becoming more interested in listening than speaking.
I believe these are exactly the conditions for peace to be realized and I only have to point to the cross God was crucified on to prove it. Our eternal peace is only possible because Jesus came to die on a cross and not rule from a throne room.
Advent is about waiting for the Messiah to bring Salvation. Part of our waiting is to take up the postures and practices Jesus showed us. It should haunt us that he said to be my follower you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. Because that my friends is how we will find peace in our lives as well as our nation and world.
And that would be something worth waiting for.