Thoughts for your weekend are on peace—that elusive goal we try for but fall very short. As we continue to watch the mid-term elections, we see anger, rancor, bad language, even threats of retribution and lawsuits. It seems no one wants a peaceable outcome unless their person is elected and even then, the rancor continues.
This morning I read the Beatitudes for my personal devotion. For some reason, I kept going back to Matthew 5, which of course, led me to change the weekend musing that I had already written. Oh the Holy Spirit—pulling me to the Beatitudes and now I know why—we want peace but only by “our way” and there are so many “my ways” that we have confused the peace we seek.
As camp hosts in New Mexico for 6 months each year, we are 32 miles away from Los Alamos National Labs. When we go to the grocery store there you can’t help but remember what came out of that lab years ago—The Manhattan Project—deadly yet it ended an awful war. Yet, today’s technology continues the war efforts—LANL folks call it kabooms. Yes, we need to defend our country, as well as others that we help, like Ukraine, but do we ever have an eye on peace—a forward movement for peace instead of a byline of destruction?
You may remember Albert Einstein’s words in reference to the atomic bond: “What terrifies us is not the explosive force of the atomic bomb but the power of the wickedness of the human heart.” It begs the question “do we really want peace or want what we want no matter what?”
Matthew 5:9 [NIV] of the Beatitudes is about as succinct as one could get: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” In the Message Bible, Dr. Peterson took this verse as a lesson to chew on: “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” Don’t you love that version—think about it, when you are at peace with yourself, God, and others you have discovered who you really are!
That brings me to John Balagna, now residing with God (probably making Italian red wine for communion-ha!) We met him at his winery in Los Alamos many years ago. His name seemed familiar to me, but I couldn’t make the connection. He could see that so, he pointed to his latest dark red called “La Bomba.” Yep, I remembered. He was the head chemist of the Manhattan Project. I didn’t know what to say; he could tell I was struggling, after all I had a lot of family in WWII in both the European and Pacific theaters. He leaned over and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “that is why I now prefer to make wine that I hope is so good it will explode with the flavors of the grapes and give people pleasure.” He didn’t have to say any more, I got it and I can’t imagine his own thoughts and reminiscence of that project.
Pastor Greg Laurie spoke about peace at a Harvest Gathering, based on Matthew 5:9. He said: “Of course we want peace in the world. Yet neither this verse nor the Bible itself teaches peace at any cost or peace by appeasement.” OUCH indeed — but wait, there’s more from the Apostle James who asked the people in his day [4:1 Voice] “Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia?” Yikes–another OUCH. James just threw our peace ideas right out the window!
Ecclesiastes 3:8 does say that “that there is a time for peace, and yes, there is also a time for war.” History gives us the sad truth: According to some estimates, in the last 4,000 years there have been only less than 300 years without a major war. It seems that peace is merely a glorious moment in history when everyone pauses to reload. We live the ideal of wanting peace but we forget that there is a right and wrong way to obtain it.
How do we bring about peace in our own lives and the lives of others? By seeking the peace that only works: that of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote this reminder from Isaiah: “Ah, how beautiful the feet of those who declare the good news of victory, of peace and liberation.” Sum this all up and it says we can experience peace—but not through human means. Those of us who profess faith in the Lord and have experienced his mercy know what peace can happen in their lives, so they go out a share it—like Jesus says, “they are the true peacemakers.” It’s time we get on the Lord’s peace train—and enjoy the adventure of giving peace to so many others who have lost hope and need to hear the life-saving Gospel, AMEN.