29th June 2008 (Values 6: Peace and Justice)
James 4:13 - 5:19
Love for our neighbour is one of our core values, and if we love our neighbours we will work for peace and justice for them. Our reading from Matthew teaches us how blessed peacemakers are, and how blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. (The Greek word for righteousness can also be translated as justice - in both God's will is done). The gospel reading also reminds us that Jesus calls us to be shining examples and promoters of the right way to live: we are salt and light in the world. The passage from James tells us of God's wrath against injustice - especially injustice committed by Christians!
We believe that the future will be one of perfect peace and righteousness. 'Peace' is more than absence of war; it is the presence of wholeness and harmony. That is what God created us - and the world - for, and the time will come when peace will reign, when the Prince of Peace will be in complete control.
That time has not yet come. For now, we live in a world where darkness reigns - Jesus called Satan 'the Prince of this world'. Evil holds sway. Yet the light has entered this world, and the light has entered and shines through us. We who believe in Jesus and are his own people have been 'born from above'; the life of the world to come is already growing in us, and we cannot help working for peace and justice. Others of good will do the same, for all people are made in the image of God and there is an instinct for fair play and harmony in all of us. But we have a special reason to be peace makers: we have the Spirit of Christ in our hearts, and are already citizens of the age to come. We know ourselves to be special to God; the more we realise how special other people are, the more we will want them to live and work in harmony and in accordance with God's will, whether those people are folk we come into daily contact with, or nations on the other side of the world.
I believe the work we do in the name of Jesus to make our world a better place also makes a vital contribution to God's project. We are 'means' to his 'end', and that end is new creation. Even if we seem to ourselves to be accomplishing nothing, our contribution in God's hands can have eternal effects.
1) 'You cannot work for peace unless you are at peace with yourself.' How true is that?
2) What are the issues today that most need our efforts? Is prayer enough?