“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” – Romans 14:19
In November we commemorate Remembrance Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of each year we stop everything we are doing and we remember.
We wear a poppy, which is meant to help us remember.
We remember those who have fought and often died at war for the sake of peace in their countries.
We think about war itself and all of its ramifications.
As we take the time to reflect, we might find ourselves being thankful for our freedom.
We might be wondering about where war comes from and why there continues to be so many wars all over the world.
We could find ourselves wondering about soldiers, and their families, who fought and possibly even died with conviction for their countries that were on the receiving end of our weapons. We might ask ourselves if war is necessary or can conflict be resolved in different, less violent, more peaceful ways?
I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions that run through my head every year at this time. (Ironically, on social media outlets at least, it’s a season of much more debate and fighting than usual as people often angrily share their very strong opinions about what people should and should not do and say at this time of year.)
But I do know that peace, ‘shalom’, is a dominant theme in the life of Jesus.
There were many occasions where He could have commandeered an army and destroyed His enemies with unprecedented military force. He could have faced those who were against Him with might and overcome them with violence. He could have made anyone who opposed Him simply disappear, never to be heard from again.
But He didn’t.
He chose a different way.
He chose to turn the other cheek.
He chose love and not hate.
He chose forgiveness and not revenge.
He chose peace and not war.
So for us at The Salvation Army, how does peace become a dominant theme when the word ‘army’ is in our very name? Well we are indeed fighting a battle, a war, but it is not against other human beings using weapons of force.
The war we are in is against the injustices we see all around us.
But our weapons are not guns and tanks and bombs.
Our weapons are:
And yes, Peace.
I am far from perfect in this. We are far from perfect. But as we grapple with these many questions and tensions that run through our minds every year at this time, let’s make sure that peace is our ultimate goal as we continue to strive to be ‘the Hand of God in the Heart of the City’.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.