“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
As we live through these days of a deadly pandemic of COVID-19, and we hear of police brutality in many cities of our country and the peaceful marches that turn into violence, destruction of businesses and looting, we are living in a time when we hunger for peace. Yet we know down deep that there will never be peace in society as long as there is discrimination and cruelty between people. We long for peace, but peace cannot be restored without the compassion of Christ shared among all people. The peace that Jesus brings is to the heart and soul which in response reaches out in love to others.
In these words of Jesus, we hear Jesus’ great call to radical discipleship, his call to total commitment, his invitation to revolutionary Christianity. This is not watered down wine. To be a disciple of Christ is to be committed not only to Christ, or to the church, but also committed to the mission of the church in the world, which is to be the love of Christ in all situations of life. The mission of the church is to help others come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and to work for social justice and social compassion for all people, which is the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
Where there is hate, distrust, and treatment of some as second class persons, the peace that comes from God is not there. We as Christians are to be disturbed spiritually and moved to the point of seeking behavior that is founded in God’s love. Christianity always involves struggle, whereby a person becomes a strong disciple. It is only through struggling that we become strong spiritually or emotionally. God’s love reaches out to those who are struggling, and God’s justice is founded on God’s love for all people. Because God is love and filled with compassion, God calls us to live justly, and compassionately, feeling the pain of others and walking with them in their struggle. Those are places where there is no peace, but if we are with them in the struggle, God’s love is shared. We are called to struggle, pray and work for those who are down trodden.
Standing with those who are treated unfairly is a stance against what the world has defined for us, and even though we try to be peaceful in our protests, it demonstrates that there can be no peace among us until all people are understood as one and treated equally with human respect.
It is my prayer that we can make the changes in our hearts that will be acted upon to change our society, elements in our law enforcement, our educational systems, and work force systems where equality can become a reality. The events of the last few weeks have made me question my own responsibility for feeling the pain of others and seeking justice for all. What am I doing to work for the equality of all? How am I reaching out to those who are oppressed and treated unfairly? How can I support equal treatment for all persons in my community?
- What are you doing to bring social justice for persons in your community who are treated unfairly?
- In what ways can you stand with them to bring forth a more just treatment in the workplace, in our schools, our churches and communities as a whole?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.