I have always been fascinated by peace. Fascinated by the concept and fascinated by how Jesus calls his followers to a radical life of peace. In the beatitudes, Jesus encourages his followers saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). For some reason, that has always been my favorite of the beatitudes and the one that I feel most strongly about. To be a peacemaker. To join with what God is doing in the world by bringing peace to it.
Of course, there has been a lot of debate about whether this is really what God is up to in the world, but I believe that this is central to who God is. This is why Jesus came the way he did, why he did the things he did, and even why he died the way that he did. Because Jesus was willing to suffer for peace. He was willing to sacrifice for peace.
Which, of course, brings us to our focus with the Lenten season. Because while peace is not necessarily what Lent is all about–it can and does play an important role. When we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus, the way that he gave his life for ours, and when we focus on the cross and the frailty of life, it is key for us to understand that God is offering peace. God is extending peace. God is even willing to suffer for the cause of peace.
Thomas Merton writes about peace and says that peace, “is perhaps the most exacting of all forms of struggle, not only because it demands first of all that one be ready to suffer evil and even face the threat of death without violent retaliation, but because it excludes mere transient self-interest.” Basically, Merton says that peace requires suffering. Not because peace is sadistic or somehow messed up. It requires suffering and struggle because peace is not something that is obtained through self-interest. Through selfishness. Or, to use more “biblical” language: through sinfulness.
Peace, Merton goes on to say, is “pure and full of trust.” Trust in God. Trust that where your hope is and where you have committed your life towards is not in vain. That what God is doing in the world is not useless, violent, or capricious. Peace is the reorienting of your life toward the ways of God. After all, that is what we are preparing for God to do in Christ right now. To reorient the world around the sacrifice of Jesus rather than the violence of a god.
This week, I hope that you can be encouraged to seek peace knowing that God has done the same with us and for us in Jesus. Consider how you might be a peacemaker and follow in the steps of Jesus this week, whether with your families and children, or with your neighbors, or coworkers. Bring peace. For this is what Jesus has done for us on the cross.