Two decades ago, Kermit Bruce Piggott was shot by a friend during an argument. His brother Ben decided that he would channel his anger and grief into something positive. Believing that violent video games and toy guns exacerbate aggression, he began rounding up "peace toys" to give to children at Christmas. His toy exchange swaps basketballs, footballs, dolls, educational videos, bikes and computers for "war toys." Ben says that as many as a thousand children may be involved this year.
Today we'll close our Advent series by focusing on "peace." Most of us think of peace as the absence of war or conflict. We have physical peace when there is no pain in our bodies. We have relational peace when there is no conflict with others. We have emotional peace where there is no turmoil in our minds or hearts. We have political and military peace when there is no war with other nations or within our nation.
But true and lasting peace is far more than harmony or the absence of conflict—it also requires the presence of justice. Martin Luther asserted: "Peace, if possible, truth at all costs." Dwight Eisenhower believed, "Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin." And Benjamin Franklin warned, "Even peace may be purchased at too high a price."
We can achieve peace with nearly anyone at any time, if we are willing to forego justice. We could have had peace without World War II if we were willing for Hitler to control Europe and Japan to control southeast Asia. We could have peace with al Qaeda now if we are willing for Israel to be annihilated and fundamentalist Islam to control the Middle East, Europe and beyond.
True peace requires righteousness in all three dimensions of life: with ourselves, with others, and with God. Not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. Where do we find such peace?
Isaiah described the Christmas child as the "Prince of Peace," literally "the Prince who gives peace." Jesus fulfilled the prophet's prediction with his promise, "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).
How do we find his peace? By submitting to his Spirit: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . ." (Galatians 5:22). And by giving our conflict to him: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Why do you need Christmas peace today?
Publication date: December 20, 2013