Friday, October 9, 2009

Peace Prizes

So if you haven't seen the news, President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Regardless of where you stand politically, there are a few things going on with this story that I think are noteworthy and should help us think more about what actual peace-making entails.

People tend to either get nominally excited over news like this, irrationally fired up (in a negative way) or just feel totally ambivalent to the whole idea. Why is this so? How can something produce such far-reaching emotions and draw so many different responses from people?

To arrive at the answers to those questions, I want to borrow a tactic that my pastor has recently been using in his re-framing of the health-care debate. He has been preaching about what true health is really all about (see andy's recent post for more info) and highlighting that we don't have a big enough view of health as we debate the issue of health-care.

Similarly, what are our ideas of peace? If nothing else, I hope that by such a controversial figure (by controversial i mean someone who elicits far-reaching opinions) being awarded the nobel peace prize people will start asking questions about what peace is really all about. Because we desperately need to think about this issue, especially in our Churches and Bible studies and personal lives as well.

And when we engage the question of what peace is really all about, there is really only one figure in all of history who stands out above all the rest: Jesus Christ. He is the starting place in our discussion of peace, and from Him we can derive the true meaning of peace.

Peace isn't simply about peace with each other, you know (although that's a huge part). It's also peace with the rest of creation. Since Genesis 3, we human's have been at odds both with ourselves and the rest of creation, and the Biblical narrative spends the rest of the Old Testament telling the story of God's work to redeem the whole of creation.

And then it happened! In Jesus. He brought true peace to the earth, the answer Israel had been waiting for for so long. Peace towards God, peace towards men, and peace that renews the whole of creation.

We are privileged people in the West, having so much knowledge and resources at our fingertips. But aren't we equally impoverished, like a thirsty man trying to get a drink from a fire hydrant with so much information around us and so little connection between information and life-transformation?

Peace. We desperately need peace. In our planet, in our relationships with one another, even with ourselves. And Jesus Christ should be the starting point for our discussion, because in Christ (like it says so beautifully in Colossians 1) all things hold together. It's time for a different conception of peace, one grounded in Christ.

Here is the best example of peace I can point you to, namely Jesus Christ. What a beautiful picture this is:

15 i He is the image of j the invisible God, k the firstborn of all creation.16 For by [6] him all things were created, l in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether m thrones or n dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created o through him and for him. 17 And p he is before all things, and in him all things q hold together. 18 And r he is the head of the body, the church. He is s the beginning, t the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For u in him all the v fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and w through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, x making peace y by the blood of his cross.

(Colossians 1, ESV translation)

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