Everyone wants to live a peaceful life. Is there anybody that dislikes the word, “peace”? The intention to pursue a peaceful life seems to be the instinct of human beings. Today, most people diligently work every day for the peace and safety of themselves. However, a peaceful life cannot be built only by ones individual effort. That is why not only effort but also direction is important and building a peaceful life is possible based on mutuality beyond individuality.
Many people, however, might not have a deep consideration of what true peace is and how to achieve peace. Through our routines, we can easily find our indifferent behaviors. We are likely to live our daily lives without the recognition of how many homeless people stay around our town and how many people are suffering from an unjust and unequal social system. If we enjoy peaceful and safe lives regardless of them, can we speak out that this is a true peace?
Looking deeply at all international issues, they are all interrelated with peace issue. But the peace which many countries pursue for, seems to be imperfect and temporary peace grounded on utilitarianism. Lately, North Korea never stopped developing nuclear weapons and some powerful countries such as the US, China and Russia are confronting this issue with various hard-line policies. As a result, South Korea is being influenced politically and economically, and the military tension around Korea peninsula is increasing now. It is obvious that this is not a wise method to build the peaceful world. Otherwise, the tragedy that one race of people continue to oppress the other race of people with distorted supremacy is not a way toward the true peace. If so, how can we find a way to build a truly peaceful world?
As Christians, let’s try to find a way through Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus calls us to be peacemakers for the sake of being God’s family. In this sense, we can realize that the purpose of the incarnation is to build God’s peace in this world and Jesus wants all followers to come together for peace.
If so, how is the peace achieved? Let’s look at Jesus’s life. Jesus did not give people any logical strategy to build peace. Jesus just shows them with peaceful behaviors. Jesus encountered people and talked with all kinds of people without any conditions or limitations. Jesus had made positive relationships with benevolent behaviors and built the Kingdom of God and the true peaceful life through these relationships step by step. Obviously, it is a hopeful possibility for us to find a way how to realize a peaceful world.
One single person stands grounded on various interrelationships. People live influencing one another positively and negatively. One important thing is that the interrelationship includes not only human beings but also nonhuman beings. In the perspective of ecofeminism, if these interrelationships would be constructed by hierarchy or power-stratification, peace would be threatened to be destructed in the world. Thus, making peace is only possible based on equal and value-respecting interrelationships.
We can remember the story that when Roman soldiers surrounded Jesus and his disciples to arrest Jesus, Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave. Peter confronted their violence with violence. Jesus saw Peter and said to him, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” Jesus did not want the disciples to face their enemy with more powerful violence. That is why any violence must bring about other violence like the chain effect. A true peace cannot be built with overwhelming power.
Two men lost their ways in one nameless desert. They were severely suffering from hunger. One day, they found canned food by chance. Unfortunately, one man killed the other because that canned food was not enough and he wanted to eat it alone. After having the canned food, he felt full and happy. But as soon as the night came, he suffered from loneliness and fear. Finally, he did not survive and passed away in the middle of the desert in a few days.
Even though this is a simple story, we can acquire a precious value from this. That is the value of a harmonious and symbiotic relationship. Many people are likely to believe that God’s blessing is social success and richness in a capitalistic society. However, that is a little part of things God gave us. If anything we have could be used only for one individual’s happiness, it cannot be an instrument of peace. We must not forget the fact that we stand on very complicated interrelationships. All communities and countries are no exceptions. All living things and nonhuman beings are interrelated one another directly and indirectly. It is very important to recognize this fact. Therefore, it is the life of peacemaker to make a relationship with love and sympathy, and try to give a positive influence to other living things and nature as much as possible. This attitude is one of the most important characteristics Christians should have.
Paul tells us a memorable lesson in chapter 12 of Romans; “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor… Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep… Never pay back evil for evil to anyone Respect what is right in the sight of all men… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
A peacemaker is a person who overcomes evil with good. A peacemaker continues to expand a good relationship with brotherly love. A peacemaker, through a given-whole life in this world, tries to yield a lot of peaceful fruit. Actually, this person becomes a worker for the Kingdom of God and also a disciple to follow Jesus Christ who came to us as a servant of peace.
Rev. Kyungmok Lee is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea (a Disciples of Christ global partner). He is an international scholar for Disciples Seminary Foundation working towards an M.A. in religion and ethics at Claremont School of Theology.