Let There Be Peace on Earth.... -- Dr. Robert Richardson
It is worth noting that St. Francis of Assisi began his most famous prayer with these words, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace….” These words provide the cornerstone for the Biblical understanding of peace.
Thus, it is no surprise that in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9). Proverbs 12:20 tells us that there is "joy for those who promote peace." Psalm 34:14 advises us to "seek peace and pursue it."
It is easy to see that peace is an assignment of God to those who choose to follow Him. We are to be peacemakers. We are to promote peace. We are to seek peace. We are to pursue peace.
The great Baptist theologian and preacher, Carlyle Marney, said, “Rather than a frictionless state of passivity, peace, in the Bible, is something one does.” He continues, “Peace does not wait on God. It waits on us.”
During the height of the Vietnam War, when the cost of lives on both sides were in the thousands, and the carnage in the jungles was indescribable, there were many who were suggesting that if God is all-powerful and all-loving, then why does God not stop the war? If God does not, either God is not all-loving or God is not all-powerful.
In response to this challenge of whether God is all-loving and all-powerful, I heard one of my minister friends say that human beings made a conscious decision to go to war in Vietnam. If so, he surmised, why couldn’t human beings make a conscious decision to stop the fighting, draw up conditions for a cease fire, and come home?
Why should we dare to think that somehow peace, in any circumstance, is waiting for God to intervene in some supernatural way? Such is a misunderstanding of the Biblical message of peace.
It is for this reason that Biblical peace appears to be primarily exhibited in individuals who are committed to the Prince of Peace. Even at that, it means that peace must reign within individuals before it can be realized within a family. Peace must be alive and well in individual members before it can be realized in the church, Mother Teresa notes, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Our Buddhist friends suggest, “The only way to bring peace to the earth is to learn to make our own life peaceful.”
“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
May it be so for each of us.