Peace on Earth: What's God Got to Do With It?
Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life
There was going to be an attack. Hundreds of men prepared for battle. Everything pointed to inevitable loss of life and property. Acting well beyond the expected role of a wife in her culture, one woman took gifts of food and went to the enemy leader to beg forgiveness for her husband's thoughtless offense that had started the trouble. She hoped her appeal would secure peace.
The leader was impressed by her wisdom, and particularly by her caring enough to keep him from harming others. He called off the attack.
Sometimes people today ask the heartfelt question: "If there is a God, why doesn't He stop violence and suffering and bring peace?" It might be helpful to remember that Biblical account of peacemaking from First Samuel (chapter 25). God was doing just that -- guiding Abigail to go to David to avert war. We can look with a more discerning eye in these times, too, to see that God is guiding thought. And when individuals are receptive to God's guidance and follow it, we can see the hand of God in human affairs, bringing signs of peace.
To keep from being discouraged about prospects for peace, it's important to understand the Bible's message and to strive to understand God's government. The Bible shows how, through his teaching, Christ Jesus explained that we are all God's children, directed by God. In healing sickness and sin, Jesus proved for all time that God destroys evil and sets His children free. He showed that the power of God comes to heal, improving the human condition until it conforms more closely to the divine.
Jesus explained for the benefit of others that in the apparent contradiction between world conflicts and peace, God and goodness must prevail. He said, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). The word repent in this verse means think differently -- to think from a new basis. Jesus elaborated later: "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known" (Matthew 10:26). But he also said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (verse 34). A clear message, applicable then and now, is that the dark side of human nature -- its fear, hatred, prejudice, and vengeance --must be uncovered and conquered by the power of God, so that peace and harmony may prevail.
We don't need to mistake this uncovering and conquering, which sometimes involves turbulence, as the final result. That mistaken perception is the source of much discouragement and fatalism. God lifts human consciousness and enlightens it. His love, known and expressed both individually and collectively, promotes harmony.
You and I work hand in hand with God to speed the process of peacemaking when we understand the divine basis for peace. Peace is the nature of God Himself, and all His children live in Him-in harmony and not conflict; in love, not hate. God is infinite, and this means that good is infinite. So hatred, revenge, greed, and the like can all be nullified through prayer, in which we let the peace of God reign in us, as individuals. Even the smallest acts of peacemaking strengthen the foundation for lasting accord. Any argument settled amicably, any offense not taken, any kind word or deed, does make a difference to the whole.
As we ponder, pray for, and practice peace, we become aware of the peacemakers among us. You might say we join the Abigails and Davids of yesterday and today and begin to prove what a popular gospel hymn says of God-"He's got the whole world in His hands."
I love a prayer by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science-a prayer that cultivates peace by acknowledging the all-powerful love of God. A portion of it goes like this: "And of these stones, or tyrants' thrones, / God able is / To raise up seed -- in thought and deed -- / To faithful His" (Poems, p. 79).
The ideas discussed here can help you to rise above skepticism and fear, and to be more conscious of God's love at work among us. Peace on earth? God has everything to do with it!