Peace belongs in God's world
by Connie Faber
I spent seven weeks this fall dealing with things that didn’t belong. It started with gallstones—they don’t belong and so surgery was recommended. Then it was bile leaking from my liver due to a rare complication from the surgery. A second surgery left me with two abdominal drains to extract the bile that was caustic to my body and didn’t belong. While the drains served an important purpose, the human body really doesn’t like having foreign objects inserted into it, and the drain sites became more sore and painful with each passing week until the drains were finally removed.
The experience of living with something that doesn’t belong, that corrodes or infects life, is helping to deepen my understanding of peace, a common theme this time of year. We understand from the prophet Isaiah’s description of God’s kingdom that peace will be one of its hallmarks: “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isa. 9:7).
In God’s world, peace belongs; violence does not. In God’s kingdom, peace belongs; broken relationships do not. We work to alleviate suffering, strife and injustice because they don’t belong.
But just as getting rid of things that don’t belong in our physical bodies can take time and be painful and uncomfortable, our efforts to be peacemakers in families, churches and communities can be time consuming, bring their own aches and may even leave scars. How do you calmly navigate the holidays with your children following a divorce when everything your former spouse does drives you crazy? How do you serve joyfully on a church committee when the chair consistently ignores your suggestions? How do you talk openly and at home about your child’s coach when your son or daughter is unfairly relegated to the bench? Not easy situations and no easy answers.
When faced with the challenges of living out my commitment to be an everyday peacemaker, I am inspired by the psalmist’s instruction to pursue peace (Ps. 34:14). Living at peace in my home, church and community requires me to be proactive and to be responsible for my actions. Chasing after peace begins with me—not a family member, not the people I go to church with and not the folks in my community. And so I resolve to practice the words of a popular Christmas song, “Let there be peace on earth (and in my family and my church and my neighborhood) and let it begin with me.”