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“Peace on earth”—now there’s an illusive but familiar idea.  I have spent much of my adult life looking to make that idea work for people, on a personal level.  For some reason, we look for peace in the big picture or we settle for some weakly defined “inner” sort of peace, but we never really try to create peace in the place where we live.  In those places, we are not only willing to fight, but we imagine that fighting is the good and virtuous thing or that it is the thing that will achieve the goals we have for success, prosperity, or even relationship.

That phrase, “peace on earth,” will be sung and spoken often over these next few days, and I will be thinking of three situations where there has been and probably will be no peace.  One involves a business, another a friendship, and the third is, of course, a war.  As I do, these words by Henry Wordsworth will echo in my mind:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
‘There is no peace on earth, ‘ I said
‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Three lines speak volumes: The first, “For hate is strong and mocks the song,” reminds us that, below the issues, stated or otherwise, is the real driving force.  It is often hatred, but look deeper and you will find the more basic attitude that drives both hatred and apathy.  It is selfishness, ego, “It’s my way or the high way!”  I have heard the most solemn pronouncements, supposedly made in the name of God, reveal this deep root of division and strife.  So self-centered are most of us that we never begin to comprehend the depth of our own sin or the trouble it causes.  For many of us, truth, love, devotion, friendship, and many other virtues take second place to what, in King James English, is called “the flesh.”

I have seen more than one business, formed by family members or close friends, destroyed by ego.
Typically, the worst offenders are sure that the other party is the cause:  “He did wrong!  She is at fault.  They don’t care about anyone or anything but themselves.”  Somehow, most never see that they are as guilty as those they accuse.  In all three situations, I mentioned above, this finger-pointing and blame is typically the first thing you’ll hear.

The second line from Wordsworth “The wrong shall fail” says it all.  When we operate selfishly, serving only our own interests, however we claim otherwise, we are doomed to fail.  That’s the real tragedy of fighting, whether it is a hot or a cold war; we never get what we really want.  War of any kind is destructive, and fighting even a necessary war has a high cost in lives, dollars, and scars.  When your very life is at stake, fighting may well be the only option, but in most of our everyday situations, the greater damage is in fighting.

Making peace is just about serenity or stillness.  Making peace is about success while keeping the relationships that make success possible.  Resorting to force or compulsion with employees, co-workers, friends, or spouses destroys the best part of those relationships, turns partners into adversaries, chills the environment where those relationships function, and slows progress toward the goal, often assuring that the goal is never reached.  Instead of working together as a team, pulling in the same direction, partners start pulling in different directions, even at crossed purposes.  You know what that is like.  You’ve seen it at your
home, office, school, church, and neighborhood, and it’s hard to miss in our  various party-driven governments!

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep” is comforting in the greater scheme of things.  War will end and peace will come, because He will bring it.  What about now?  Is a living, alert God available to help our immediate conflicts?  I believe He is, He wants to help, and He’s given us the tools, believe it or not, right in our Bibles.  So many think faith is merely about belief, and they miss the practical living suggestions, suggestions that work!  Too often, we regard the commandments of God as burdens He places on us because He can, being God and all.  Instead, we should accept that our Creator knows us intimately, having designed every aspect of our essence and foreseen the fundamental nature of our relationships.  Having done so, we can admit that His laws are for our good and not a burden.  It is in that sense that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Because I know the Book and the One who inspired it, I know what to do to help those in conflict.  Sadly, most will never ask.  They will continue fighting, thinking thereby to achieve their goals, only to fail, and fail, and fail again.  I have been gratified to have helped a few, but I am saddened that so many others follow the same pattern, losing what they fight so hard to gain.  Peace is possible.  You don’t have to repeat the same mistakes, living in turmoil, and failing to achieve what you want so very much.  If you can’t find someone to help, drop me a note, and I will help you myself or help you find someone.  Maybe you are someone who could become a peacemaker; there are resources to help you learn

how to come between those in conflict and facilitate a process that can lead to reconciliation (Until I write my own book, Ken Sande‘s The Peacemaker is a good one).  That is the goal of peacemaking, and it is the goal of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Reconciliation and peace are why Jesus came, why He died, and why He gave us His spirit.  Indeed He gave us His ministry of reconciliation:

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins
against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.—II Corinthians 5:18-22

That puts nuts and bolts to another song:  “Let there be peace on earth,…and let it begin in me.”

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