Real Peace Is More Than Absence of War

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Real Peace Is More Than Absence of War

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Peace and safety rank very high on the list of priorities for many people. In the buildup to the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq, and in the early days of the conflict, many people in the United States and around the world staged peace rallies advocating peace instead of war. Many eschew violence and insist that peace can be preserved by negotiation. Feelings run strong on both sides of the issue.

Peace is a major topic addressed in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah decried violence, lying and injustice in the nation of Judah and boldly proclaimed, “The way of peace they have not known” (Isaiah 59:1-8 Isaiah 59:1-8 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness. 4 None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eats of their eggs dies, and that which is crushed breaks out into a viper. 6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. 8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace.
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).

The apostle Paul applies this passage to all mankind (Romans 3:9-18 Romans 3:9-18 9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
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). Indeed, the fact that man does not know the way to peace is tragically documented by man’s entire history, from the time that Cain killed Abel to the wars and conflicts of today.

The causes of war are deeply rooted in the self-centered, carnal nature of unregenerate man. Violent, aggressive behavior that leads to war begins with someone wanting something someone else has and striving to get it forcibly (James 4:1-2 James 4:1-2 1 From where come wars and fights among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.
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). This hostile approach begins in childhood, when one child wants a toy another child is playing with.

Most people live in some degree of peace with their neighbors. But what about those who willfully remain violent and persist in lies, and whose decisions and actions result in the suffering of innocent victims? History, as well as scripture, teaches us that some people are simply unwilling to depart from their violent, rebellious and destructive ways. No amount of education, negotiation or concessions will sway them from their evil plans.

There is a widespread mentality in the Western world that considers physical punishment the antithesis to peace and something to be avoided at all costs. This philosophy pervades many human institutions in our culture from child rearing to international politics. Many years ago, Bertrand Russell, in the face of threatened war with the Soviet Union, coined the slogan, “Better Red than dead.” This is the ultimate “peace” at all costs and a stark contrast to patriot Patrick Henry’s famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Peace without freedom is really not peace.

Violence and war result in widespread suffering, often resulting in deaths and injuries of civilians and other innocent victims. However, other alternatives often perpetuate the same problems when a violent, evil leader is allowed to remain in power.

Jesus tells Christians to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 Matthew 5:44But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
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). However, God does not intend for evil to go unpunished. Paul explains in Romans 13:1-7 Romans 13:1-7 1 Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that does evil. 5 Why you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually on this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
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that God, the source of all authority, has made provisions for civil authorities to “execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4 Romans 13:4For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that does evil.
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).

Jesus Christ will bring about permanent world peace as a conquering King, who “in righteousness … judges and makes war” (Revelation 19:11 Revelation 19:11And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war.
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). Some consider righteousness and making war contradictory acts. But the love of God includes punishing evildoers as a prerequisite to lasting peace.

Human nature must be replaced by the love of God. This requires repentance and a spiritual transformation initiated by God (Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:1-2 1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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).

Ultimately, all mankind will learn the way of peace based on the laws of God under the righteous rule of Christ. Universal disarmament will be achieved and weapons of death and destruction will be converted to agricultural implements. Everyone will dwell safely (Micah 4:1-4 Micah 4:1-4 1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it.
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).

Today we live in a dangerous world, fraught with wars and conflicts. We should pray for our national and international leaders with the comforting assurance that ultimately all will “come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4 1 Timothy 2:1-4 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
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).

Jesus promises us true peace that far exceeds the mere absence of war (John 14:27 John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
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; Philippians 4:6-7 Philippians 4:6-7 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
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). We can look forward to the time when war and suffering will finally be no more. Meanwhile we should do our best to be examples of the peace of God in our own lives. Our motto ought to be, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

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