To assume that peace exists or can be maintained simply by remaining silent, is a misrepresentation of what peace is. To remain silent in the face of oppression or violence, is not “peace,” and that silence is not “golden.” This false peace is more akin to complicity and cowardice, and this silence is “yellow.” Do you understand?
False peace must be broken so that true peace can be made. Superficial sanctimony and shallow genteelness are nothing more than masks for an uneasy and counterfeit peace. This repressive, passive-aggressive, counterfeit peace leaves wounds festering that eventually erupt in blistering outbreaks of violence (physical and verbal) and discord. This false peace, in our culture, is often what is weaponized against oppressed peoples in the name of civility. This is not the peace that God gives us, and this is not the virtue required of us as God’s people. This is not an outworking of the “fruit of the Spirit.” This is rotten fruit from a corrupt tree – this is a distortion and a deception.
The peace we have with God through Christ, demands that we are in His presence. God’s presence is everywhere, there’s no place we can go where God is not, but peace comes from more than just a casual realization of divine presence. Peace comes when we submit to His presence and yield to His grace and guidance. When we operate from a posture of balance and well-being – a position of courageous grace, a position of dignity and love, and a position of integrity and honesty, our aim is to make peace. But when our aim is model the Kingdom of God in this fallen world, we are also necessarily compelled to break uneasy and false peace, to call out injustices and hypocrisy, and to do so with the dignity with which Christ called out injustice and hypocrisy among both religious and civil authorities!
Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace, was crucified by Roman authorities at the behest of Jewish religious leadership. This point must never be lost. Much like the prophets of our own times – murdered for disturbing and disrupting this false peace – Jesus died horribly and publicly in order to restore true peace between God and humanity. False peace was broken so true peace could be restored. Can I say it again?
Peace-making is not the equivalent of peacekeeping.
Now, I want to focus briefly, on how we maintain a posture of peace – peace that surpasses understanding – in a culture that sates itself on violence and destruction.
How do we keep a right mind and a pure heart, when everything around us smacks of oppression and injustice, malice and unfairness?
How do we remain a hopeful outlook and a steady resolve, when we are surrounded by wickedness and corruption?
Brothers and Sisters, we must stay before God. We must stem our exposure to the negative influences of the world and guard our hearts against bitterness (this is for both self-care and compassion’s sake). Frustration and anxiety will lead to a type of desperation that would have us assume the ways of those who oppress and harm us. We must not give into this darkness. We must stay in the light of His love and draw on His grace and power to remain as peaceful warriors protesting and disrupting the false peace that is really no peace at all!
We must abide in the presence of God. We must acknowledge His presence and then yield to His presence. This is difficult, I am a witness, when we are angry and offended, marginalized and victimized, but this is the posture that we must maintain as God’s people. We cannot do this in our own strength, hence the constant reminders in Scripture that we remain in His presence – no matter what! He will keep us in perfect peace, when our minds are stayed on Him!
3 You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
Brothers and Sisters, when we abide in Him, He will strengthen us amid life’s challenges, afflictions, tragedies, and injustices. We, as we remain in Him, must be able to draw on this gracious fountain that never runs dry. Our hope will remain secure, our joy will persist, and our peace will surpass understanding. We will have the strength we need to maintain our dignity, to keep standing up, and sitting down, to keep protesting the wicked and oppressive forces that would destroy us. We will draw from the wellspring of God’s Spirit and find the resolve to keep pressing, to keep marching, to keep singing, to keep praying, to keep serving, and to keep loving others. We must be salt and light. We cannot remain silent – we must not exercise this right. We must be counted among those whom Jesus himself declared:
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
False peace must be broken, so that true peace can be restored. We must disturb and disrupt with the dignity that reflects the image of Christ and emphatically declares the justice of God.