Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every people anyone who fears him and practices righteousness is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.“
Acts 10:34-36; NRSVue
I don’t know how we can’t be more than hoping for peace, peace, and more peace in this war torn, angry, divisive, hate-filled, deceived and deceptive mess which is too much of this life and world. We long, long, long for peace. But is it good enough to just have peace?
If we define peace as absence of conflict, wouldn’t that be wonderful? If we add to that definition justice in human flourishing on an individual and communal as well as systemic level, then we’re getting closer to the Biblical meaning of peace (shalom, שָׁלוֹם).
Peace in and of itself is not enough. There was Pax Romana and we’ve heard “peace through strength.” Sometimes something like that has been justified on the basis of an acceptance of something akin to Christendom or a Christian nationalistic ideal which somehow justifies imposing peace through physical force. Many problems, even dangers result. One is the cycle of violence. Violated peoples don’t forget, and once given the chance, will seek revenge.
Christ came in large part to put an end to that violence through the peace given by the blood of his cross, his death. This is a peace which ultimately reconciles all peoples. Too many will say, in the sweet by and by. Yes, there too. But it’s meant to challenge the powers that be now. Only we in Christ carry that peace. Not to say that Christ’s peace isn’t somehow disseminated in the world through those who perhaps don’t know his name. But Christ is always and forever the source of that one true lasting forever peace.
But here on the ground we have to learn to do the hard work of bringing that peace into the most difficult situations. Yes, it won’t always work, especially among those who are set in their ways, be it religious, political or otherwise. But we must press on together in Christ to work at bringing in the peace that only Christ can bring, amongst ourselves and for the world. For the world’s sake, and for Jesus’s sake as well.