International Day of Peace

Bible Study for the International Day of Peace

"would that you knew the things that make for peace"

Bible Study for the International Day of Peace

In the beautiful worship space at the Church Center for the United Nations, written on the bible holder  on the altar, are the words of Jesus from Luke 19:42: “Would that you knew this day the things that make for peace.” These words were spoken as Jesus overlooked Jerusalem, weeping, on the day he had borrowed the colt and people had put palms on the ground before him.

This story of the palms (but not often of his words spoken) is traditionally recalled during Palm Sunday worship services. We know that at that moment, Jesus knew a lot about the world, about peacemaking, about its consequences when oppression is everywhere. He knew that he, personally, was in trouble with the authorities because of the truthful word he brought and the actions that demonstrated the inclusion of all persons in the Kingdom of God. He knew there would be hard and cruel times ahead. And he knew that it was the fears and injustices of the occupying Roman powers and the fears and injustices of the religious authorities that would empower that cruely. Yet everything Jesus did and said spread peace, even when it meant difficult words and provocative actions. Jesus simply spoke peoples’ truths.

It is appropriate that these are the core words for our work at the Church Center for the United Nations — our work is about the things that make for peace in a place where all the world’s powers come together. And certainly the world needs peacemakers. All over the world wars are erupting; the anger of the people and nations hoping that violence will overcome and give us peace is often given to us as the only answer. What are disciples of Jesus Christ to do in this day and age?

Here are some of our beliefs as we look at a scripturally based centrality of peacemaking:

  • Jesus’s key mission was peace (not winning or control).
  • The early church witnessed to peace (not winning or control).
  • Peace is more than the absence of war.
  • The foundation of peace can only be justice.
  • The root of peace is grace.
  • Peace must be waged with the energy of waging war.
  • Peacemakers often cause trouble.
  • Peacemaking is not optional.
  • God’s future promise is peace.

Let’s look further into these deep key messages of our faith.

Peace, not winning, was the mission of Jesus.
Jesus’ role as "The Prince of Peace" was foretold by Isaiah (9:6). Angels announcing his birth declared "Glory to God" and "peace on earth" (Luke 2:14). Weeping over Jerusalem, Jesus prayed: "would that you knew the things that make for peace" (Luke 19:41-42).
How do you see Jesus’ life being about peace?

Peace, not winning, was the witness of the early church.
The new community created in Christ bore witness by its reconciled fellowship: "And all who believed were together and had all things in common" (Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-37). Paul urged that the church's "feet" be "shod with the gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15).
How do you see the early church to be about peace?

Peace is more than the absence of war.
Peace — shalom — occurs when captives are released (Luke 4:18), when outcasts are gathered (Zephaniah 3:19), and when the hungry have plenty to eat (Joel 2:19-26, Luke 1:53, 1 Samuel 2:1-8).
How are we a peaceful society? How are we a violent society?

The foundation of peace is justice.
"The effect of righteousness (justice) will be peace," predicted Isaiah (32:17). "Righteousness and peace will kiss," wrote the psalmist (Psalm 85:10). "Sowing justice" will result in peace, said Hosea (10:12-14).
What is justice? Why must peacemaking found itself in justice? What about injustice creates violence?

Peacemaking is rooted in grace.
In Jesus' prayer, our "debts" are forgiven in the measure to which we forgive others (Matthew 6:12). "Whoever is forgiven little, loves little" (Luke 7:47). It is grace which frees us from fear (1 John 4:18) and empowers us to risk our lives for the sake of justice and peace.
Why must peacemaking root itself in grace? What does this mean?

Peace, like war, is waged.
Peacemakers are not passive, but active. Peter, echoing the psalmist, urges us to "seek peace, and to pursue it" (1 Peter 3:11; Psalm 34:14). Jesus urged worshippers to take the initiative to settle disputes (Matthew 5:23-24). Peace includes loving and feeding enemies (Luke 6:27; Romans 12:20).
What does it mean to wage peace in your life?

Peacemakers sometimes cause trouble.
Jesus turned over the tables of oppressive money-changers (John 2:13-16). When he says, "I come not to bring peace but division" (Luke 12:51), the "peace" of which he speaks merely disguises an order of injustice (see Jeremiah 6:14-15). It was Jesus' peacemaking mission which landed him on the cross (Colossians1:20).
Do you have a story where your own peacemaking caused trouble?

Peacemaking is not optional.
We believe that the separation between "preaching the Gospel" and "working for peace and justice" is a mistaken understanding of biblical truth. Jesus prayed: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). We lie if we say we love God yet fail to assist neighbors in need (1 John 4:20). Loving enemies — whether close at hand or far away — is the way to become children of God (Matthew 5:44-45).
What do you think of this?

God's promised future is peace.
Though now living as "aliens" in a strange land, peacemakers have caught a glimpse of how the future will finally unfold. Both Isaiah and John's Revelation speak of the coming "new heaven and new earth" (Isaiah 65:17-22; Revelation 21:1). The day is coming, says Micah, when nations "shall beat their swords into ploughshares...and neither shall they learn war any more" (4:3-4). On that day, creation itself — which "has been groaning in travail...will be set free from its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:19-24).
How goes it with your soul?

For individual reflection:
How are you fulfilling the high calling of disciples of Jesus Christ — enacting the things that make for peace in your United Methodist Women, your church and the world around you?

Posted or updated: 8/16/2014 11:00:00 PM
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