Hi everyone. Rob here.
Like many of you I have watched with growing concern the escalation of violence in the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Having visited there 18 months ago the concern is more personal. I can see the faces of Palestinian friends in Bethlehem, the bike tour guide who shared his hope for peace with me in Tel Aviv, the cafe worker in the West Bank who just wanted to travel and the tour guides who knew life in both East and West Jerusalem. Many of the places I visited are now filled with protest and discord. Hope for peace is fading, but it must not be allowed to die. Peace is the only way forward.
Violence is doing harm to all in this current conflict. There are never any winners when violence is the dominant voice. That’s because the saying, “The means justify the ends” is a lie. The truth is that the means become the ends. Violence begets more violence. Just as lies beget more lies, apathy begets apathy and so on. But the fact that the means becomes the ends also has a positive side. Truth begets truth, kindness begets kindness and love begets love. This is why Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are…
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.
We need to create a new cycle of love. However, we can only give what we have received. This is why the victims of violence so often become the perpetrators of violence. But again, the opposite is also true. The recipients of peace can become the givers of peace. Those who receive love, give love.
In John 14:27 Jesus says this to his disciples:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
We are given the love of Jesus, the peace of Jesus, the joy of Jesus and the life of Jesus. We are invited, through the Spirit, to take these things to heart. As we take our place as sons and daughters of the Father we can then see ourselves as brothers and sisters of the King, Jesus. We discover the honoured and valuable place we have in the heart of God and in his kingdom. As we take our place the Spirit comes to us and affirms to us that it is true, that we are loved and that we are empowered to live the life that the sons and daughters of God are intended to live.
In this latest conflict the only side I take is the side of Jesus who invites all people, Palestinian and Israeli, into his peace. He invites us all to meet him at his cross and lay down their arms at the feet of the Crucified One. He invites us all to see the image of God in one another as we give our lives to the New Adam. God’s kingdom is one that blesses the peacemakers, rewards the humble, honours those who pursue justice and who show the world how to love in the name of Jesus. This is about more than war and violence. It’s about grudges, bitterness, resentment, hatred, prejudices and any kind of dehumanising thought we have toward others. This is about all of us learning to become more human as we give our lives to the True Human, Jesus.
James 3:17-18 says,
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
May you be blessed as you receive the peace of Jesus this week. May his shalom be yours.