Peace and Conflict
The announcement of the coming of Jesus: “Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14) Jesus came to bring and restore peace.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)
Jesus came to restore Shalom. We see the perfect example of this Shalom in the relationship within the Trinity. The relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one of perfect harmony, of wholeness, of joy. The Trinity exists in perfect love. When God created the world, it was to express this love and with the intention that the whole of creation participates in this love and in this Shalom.
Shalom: life in all its fullness, free of poverty, injustice and conflict; this is the goal of transformation. This is the goal of our shared mission that God has called us to.
Becoming a person of peace, of Shalom
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have with one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15)
We are called to be people of Shalom. Jesus is the peace bringer and his reign is one of Shalom – he rules with peace. We are called to manifest this peace. The Shalom of God is to flow through us.
How do we do this in a world so obviously escalating into violence?
As we read Scripture we see that we are called in be transformed through the renewal of our minds and we need to take every thought captive. This points to the need for us to examine our hearts and minds and take action against every thought and imagination that has violence, revenge, hatred or prejudice in it. In fact we are told we should not even call someone a fool and instead we need to actively, each day and moment by moment clothe ourselves with love. Every hostile thought becomes a block and stops us being a conduit for God’s love and peace.
We need to let the peace of God reign in our hearts so that we in turn can be peace bringers.
How is this possible?
Watching the news shows us the reality of rebellion and hatred and we need to react strongly against this by bringing it all to Christ so that the peace of God fills our hearts and minds.
What kind of peace is possible in our world?
Of course, we would like to have everyone stop killing one another. But the Bible wants to take the world much further than just the cessation of killing. People cannot fix the problem of violence and conflict because we are part of the problem.
Rebellion has fragmented and broken Shalom. Shalom between ourselves and God, between ourselves and other people, between ourselves and creation; even peace within ourselves has been fragmented.
We know violence breeds violence. Conflict spreads like a virus as we are seeing right now on our news. It does not just spread - it escalates and revenge multiplies violence (See Genesis 3-6). It starts with thoughts since thoughts become actions. You may say you have not acted violently, but even our thoughts fuel the fire in the spirit realm.
You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Read further Matthew 5:44-48)
We receive the capacity to love like God when we are in Christ and when we take every thought captive and clothe ourselves with love – we then reflect Christ – the peace bringer. This is the distinguishing mark that we are children of God!
The radical reflection of this love is Jesus on the Cross. As we remember his love this Easter, we need to ask God to help us to be peace bringers, to love unconditionally and to reflect Shalom.
1) Make a commitment today to be a person of peace
2) Ask God to take away our fear and replace it with his Shalom so that we can love
3) We cannot love like Jesus without knowing the truth of how much God loves us – we need to take time with God to be filled with His truth and love and peace.
4) Train yourself to take every thought captive and submit this to Jesus, so that His Shalom replaces it. Let the Holy Spirit fill your mind with truth.
And we, who with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18)
Do you have reflections or thoughts on peace and conflict that you wou would like to share? Why not consider submitting a paper for our Global Consultation: Integral Mission and Shalom: justice, peace, joy ?