Who’s Peace – Jesus’ or Rome’s?
Peace. As it was defined by Jesus of Nazareth, peace was a dangerous goal for the early Christians who lived in the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire also brought “peace”. But Roman leaders believed they could bring peace by conquering nations, crucifying rebels, and worshipping Roman gods. That means early Christians were radically different from their culture and their government. They followed a man who said peace comes from healing, forgiving, and serving others. They chose to worship the God who stood for sacrifice and nonviolence instead of the Roman gods, who called for war and domination.
How about us today? Our nation has resorted quickly to military solutions for global problems. Many people seek peace by ignoring their conflicts with others or by shouting down people who disagree with them.
In contrast, I know some Catholic nuns who work full time to further Christ’s peace. They organise nonviolent demonstrations against the use of military force to solve world problems. They teach people about Christian movements that have brought peace to war-torn areas through nonviolence. They train people to solve problems without violent words or actions. Like the early Christians, they look pretty radical to some. They are Christian heroes to me.
Easter is a good time to ask difficult questions about our notion of peace. Do we work for peace by forgiving others or settling conflicts without violent words or actions? Do our national policies reflect Jesus’ style of peacemaking or Rome’s? Are we courageous enough to look as radical as our Christian ancestors.
Where do you – or where does our country – need to change in order to more effectively stand for the peace Jesus offers the world?
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