"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:17-18 NIV)
One bumper sticker that has been appearing for a while proclaims the message, "Stop This Endless War!" Whenever we see something like that, we assume that the person is concerned about all the carnage and human degradation that goes along with armed conflicts. Exactly which war this bumper sticker is crying out to us about is a question that only the owner of the bumper knows.
Is the concern aimed at the gigantic and expensive - in terms of men and machines, war that is raging in Iraq, or Afghanistan? Is the bumper sticker supposed to arouse our war-hardened sensitivities to all the deadly conflicts that are currently raging in many countries on the African continent? Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear about barbaric atrocities being carried out in places like Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan & Sudan Darfur and Uganda.
Perhaps such placards are supposed to arouse our spirit of brotherly love and concern for peace in the continuous conflict between Russia and the people of Chechnya? For some reason, it is very popular to cry louder for the people of Tibet than many other groups of persecuted peoples around the world. Closer to the borders of America there is the war that continues in Columbia, and what else can we call the conflict in Haiti that has kept our neighbors in squalor for centuries while most Americans turn a blind eye? What about the horrible crimes committed constantly in the drug wars right in our own country and in Mexico our closest neighbor to the south?
Despite all the extravagant and costly efforts made toward Middle-East diplomacy, war skirmishes and outright conflict continue to grab headlines. How and when will the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or the Israeli-Lebanon armed conflicts come to an end? Presidents and would-be presidents constantly have their wisdom put to the test by how well they formulate Middle-East peace plans.
The Bible answers the question of where wars come from. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:1-3 NIV)
At the heart of all conflicts that rise to the point of violence and even the use of arms and shows of superior force, lies deep within our innermost selves. When we have selfish attitudes toward things that are not our own, and we hotly pursue these with no regard to the rightful owners, this causes us unlimited grief that can never be satisfied.
One time a few years ago, Galina and I were attending a conference involving members of Churches of Christ from throughout the state of Florida. There was a lunch break and we got our food from a buffet and proceeded to find a table. One gentleman was seated by himself and I asked if he would mind if we ate at his table. He enthusiastically welcomed us to sit-down to eat and have fellowship. I asked him his name and where he lived. Turned out he is a preacher for a church in Gainesville that I had not met before.
When I answered him that we live in Cedar Key, he almost lost his food. He said that he didn't think he would ever be welcome out at that place. Even though I have a much lighter complexion than his, we didn't conclude that he felt superior to us and we surely didn't have any prejudices toward him. The problem was that someone in his family from long ago had planted the idea that Cedar Key was not a safe place for people with his particular type of skin pigmentation. That seems incredulous and perhaps hard for us to grasp, but there it is. People can go to war in a New York second over small stuff like that. The meeting ended with us trying hard to invite him to visit us, but it was obvious he was going to follow his cultural upbringing.
Family members get into disputes when they are children that sometimes never can be healed because the hurt is too deep. Something ugly was said and both parties refused to take it back. The ones involved in these feuds pass along the hatred and distrust to their children about their kin until conditions liken unto a cold war remain for many generations. It doesn't take much to turn a cold war into a hot and deadly conflict.
Is it just Pollyannaish thinking to sincerely hope and work tirelessly to bring warring factions together for peace talks? Would it simply be better to just let the two sides fight it out and let the "best man win?" Jesus Christ proved by his own actions and examples that the work of a peacemaker is far superior to the repeated failures of war-mongers.
God is God and we are not. God wants all his creation to be filled with joy by being obedient to the perfect will of the Father that has been brought to earth in the person and teachings of the Son. What about all those that rebel and refuse to come under the will of the Son? Satan refuses to come under submission to the will of God. God is one and God wants all humanity to be one in the Son. Those who refuse Christ Jesus as Lord ultimately find themselves as followers of the great rebellion - the Devil.
Christ truly came to bring peace. However, most people do not desire the kind of peace that God is offering. In order to make peace with God we must accept Jesus Christ as the Father's Son and fully believe that Christ is our Master. Christ received this authority from the Father. The Spirit will help those obedient to Christ to remain in peaceful submission to Christ until the time of the end of all things. This evil world will not go out peacefully. Jesus warns about "wars and rumors of wars" right up until the time of the end of all matter. Make peace with Christ today by obeying Him as Lord. Follow his example as a peacemaker and be happy.
You are invited to attend the services of the Church of Christ which meets at the corner of 3rd and E Streets. Please write to me with any questions or comments at P.O. Box 186, Cedar Key, FL 32625 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you may also request to receive the daily WORD OF THE DAY by e-mail. Please visit our web site at www.cedarkeychurchofchrist.com.