On Making Peace

Someone had an interesting post on Facebook asking for sad personal stories in three words. A few responders used levity with "Donald Trump won" and "President Hillary Clinton." But other responders were gravely serious: "Nobody likes me," "children are hungry," "you have cancer" and "husband in heaven."

Our world is filled with turmoil and the holiday season accentuates the unrest so many people know.

How strange the words of the prophet Isaiah fall on our ears: the Messiah will be the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).

The Peace Pledge Union in the UK states we've had 250 wars since the end of World War II resulting in 50 million casualties. Our world will know "wars and rumors of wars" until God inaugurates the millennium.

But the Christ of Christmas promises peace in our hearts. He does this in two ways. First, he pays our sin debt and removes our estrangement from God. The apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). And second, he gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be and do something that Christ in the flesh couldn't do: he would be "with" us and "in" us forever (John 15:17). It is the Holy Spirit who gives inner peace in a world of turmoil.

After we receive the gift of peace, we're exhorted to give ourselves to the noble task of peace-making. As St. Francis wrote so long ago, "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace."

It was the greatest gamble of the Carter presidency when the president invited Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt to Camp David in 1977. The peace summit was fraught with difficulty and the president already had a statement prepared announcing the dissolution of peace talks had that been necessary. And on day 11, Sadat was packing to leave when Carter persuaded him to stay longer. The Camp David Peace Accords were reached on day 13.

The men returned to a joint session of Congress where President Carter quoted the prince of peace: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9).

President Sadat visited a new American president four years later, then took time to travel to Plains, Ga. to visit his old friend Jimmy Carter. The natives still remember "Sadat Day" on Aug. 9, 1981. Eight weeks later President Sadat was assassinated in Egypt by terrorists who disagreed with the Camp David Accords. He was only 62. But Sadat left behind a legacy of peace.

We are never so much like Christ as when we become peace-makers.