Peace & Violence
by Pastor Gene
True peace can never exist where violence is present.
Like the word ‘peace’ itself, the word ‘violence’ is also multidimensional.
When a nation’s safety is threatened by some rogue regime, it’s often left with no option but to fight. And so, we have war. Eventually, one nation’s force overwhelms the force of the other nation and the war ends.
But the peace that results is never a lasting peace; it’s merely a temporary cessation of hostilities. Before long, some other nation resumes the hostility and the cycle of war begins all over again.
The history of humankind is the history of violence – from Cain’s stone to Nagasaki’s bomb. Any success in achieving ‘world peace’ is transient at best – and always shall be until Jesus returns.
Jesus certainly understood this. He told His disciples, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 25:6-8).
The message is clear: peace – the shalom of God, completeness – will never be fully realized until the ‘Prince of Peace,’ the Lord Jesus Himself, returns to the earth to establish His Kingdom.
The bottom line is this: where violence is, peace is absent.
So then, what will the world look like when our Lord comes again to establish His Kingdom? Well, it will look like this: “[The nations] shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).
Weapons of destruction become agricultural instruments.
That which was created for violence are re-purposed for good.
Furthermore, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
Now, just to be safe, if you have a lamb and you happen to like it, keep it away from the wolves for the time being.
Ditto for your young goat, keep him from all leopards. If you don’t, it’ll really ‘get your goat.’ (‘You’re welcome’ for that.)
I wouldn’t recommend you dangling a fatted calf before a lion either, at least not yet.
And WHAT EVER YOU DO, keep your child away from them all! I know Isaiah says, “a little child shall lead them,” but please, not yet! Keep the kids away from wild animals.
Besides that, Isaiah says that a “nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den” (Isaiah 11:8).
Goodnight Irene! Don’t try that yet either!
Why? Because violence runs through the very veins of God’s fallen creation and it has ever since Genesis 3. It’s in the very DNA of the natural order.
But, here’s some good news! It won’t be this way forever. The Prince of Peace is coming. And when He does, He will once and for all remove any and every semblance of violence from the earth. It will never be known again.
The wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the young goat, the lion and the fattened calf, the infant and the cobra – will dwell harmlessly together, as God always intended them too.
But I think it’s important for us to understand that there are two kinds of violence, and that’s where we miss the full picture.
One we might call active violence; the other we might call passive violence.
Active violence is hitting someone, using a weapon to subdue an enemy, war, causing physical injury to someone else, etc. That’s clear enough.
Passive violence is subtler, but it’s a broad field in which mischief grows. It includes the sins we hide in our hearts – sins which affect the way we treat others or whether or not we choose to serve them.
Passive violence might be harboring resentment against someone, or holding back forgiveness, or even wasting resources that others might use.
I think to move through life without considering this other kind of violence – the internal, spiritual kind – is to really miss the point.
Jesus talked about a lust that is the father of adultery and an anger that is the mother of murder.
From the seeds of passive lust flower active adultery; from the seeds of passive resentment bloom active murder.
When I hold back love from my brother because I’m am upset with him, I’m acting in passive violence. Please read that line again.
And here’s the thing: there can be no peace where violence is.
Interestingly enough, God brought the flood in Noah’s day because “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11).
If we would be peacemakers, sons of the day and of the light, we have to identify these things in ourselves and set them aside for the glory of God.
To consider …
- Is there some violence hiding in your heart that’s keeping God’s love from flowing through you? Are you hiding resentment? Unforgiveness? Jealousy? Is there something you need to confess and leave at the foot of the cross?
- Have you ever thought about violence as something that exists passively? How does understanding this change the way you think about your actions or your lack thereof?
- Solomon warned us to keep our “heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Jesus said that whatever “comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person (Matthew 15:18-20a).
These are important verses. They challenge us to look deeply within in order to discover what truly lives in our hearts
- Think of something you’ve done that you wish you hadn’t – something that hurt someone and injured your relationship with God.
What was in your heart at the time you did it?
What led the spiritual malfunction? Identifying the heart issue involved may help you to see if it’s still lurking there.
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