Witness

The Peace of Jesus: Symbol or Salvation

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How do you find your heart these days?

If I’m being honest, I find mine quite torn. I feel positively bombarded by many current soul-wrenching cultural realities…

  • A global refugee crisis and resulting immigration issues
  • Mass shootings
  • Terrorist attacks abroad and at home
  • The revealing of deep-seated racial tension
  • The abuse of power by those sworn to protect
  • And the perennial tumult that always accompanies Presidential elections

Of course a great many other things could be added to that list.

But I’m not sure that it’s only that list that has my heart torn. What I find most distressing is how Christians, especially Christian leaders, seem to be responding to these realities. I see – and find in myself – a capitulation to fear, fighting, and fragmentation. On one hand, this is totally understandable. These are, after all, fundamental instincts of human nature. They are survival mechanisms. It’s hard (or at least it should be) to fault people for adopting these postures.

Yet as Advent reminds us, for those of us who seek to live in the Kingdom of God, a new age has been inaugurated and a new way of being human has been made possible in and through Jesus. And according to Jesus, peace is the fundamental characteristic of this new age and this way of being human.

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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. (John 14:27)

Amid a world that is quite literally being torn apart by fear, fighting, and fragmentation, there is an aching need for a counter-witness – a way of being, speaking, and acting in the world that is marked by a faith, hope, and love that is inexplicable save for the empowering presence of God among us. I’d like to suggest that we must move past the notion that the Peace of Jesus is merely a symbol of some internal reality and reclaim it as the very manifestation of God’s saving work. 

As we continue to journey through Advent, our Writing Team and several guest authors will be addressing a range of the cultural issues named above across all four of our Writing Collectives. For the sake of the integrity and impact of Christian witness, they’ll be inviting us to (re)center our thinking on the person, work, and way of Jesus in the cultural moment in which we find ourselves. Let us discern together the shape and scope of the Peace of Jesus for our lives, our churches, and our world.

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