Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christians AGAINST Peacemaking?

Here's an excerpt from a letter sent out by Salim Munayer, the director of Musalaha. If you aren't familiar with Musalaha's work, you should check out its website. It's a non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. It was started in 1990 by Christian leaders on both sides, and "Musalaha" is the Arabic word for forgiveness and reconciliation.

14 November 2007:
The Armor of God and Peace-Making
I recently received an email from a Christian group that was urging
believers to speak out against the upcoming peace summit to be
held in
Annapolis in the United States of America. While it is natural
to have a
healthy dose of skepticism with regards to all political
maneuvering, and
easy to see how some would be unconvinced that
this meeting will lead to
true and lasting peace between the Israelis
and the Palestinians, its seems
odd to me that Christians would be
against it altogether. Just to be clear,
Musalaha has no official position
on the impending peace summit, but this
issue brings to the surface
an interesting question about peace in general.
Unfortunately, for some
believers, peace is not 'the Will of God'. This
mindset is usually
informed by some sort of theological position on the 'End
Times'. At
Musalaha we have encountered this attitude before, being accused

of pursuing humanistic goals and ignoring the spiritual and Godly realm.
many, the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding"
from Philippians
4:7, refers only to inner peace, an individual affair
that has nothing to do
with those around us, and certainly no connection
to actual physical peace.

This attitude seems to contrast with the Biblical teachings on
peace. We find numerous passages where peace-making, and peace
pursuing is
spoken about in the Bible. Actually, upon investigation,
the truth is that
in the Bible, peace-making is connected with spiritual
warfare. In Ephesians
6, Paul talks about the armor of God, which
was modeled after a Roman
soldier, and urges all believers to
take up the spiritual weapons. He makes
it clear that our struggle is
not against "flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this
age, against
spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
6:12. While this is true, Jesus also made clear that those who

work for peace on earth are doing God's work. "Blessed are
the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God."
Matthew 5:9. It is interesting to
note that included in the list of
our spiritual armor, such as the
breastplate of righteousness, the
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the
Spirit, in verse 15 we
are encouraged to shod our feet, "with the gospel of

Feet are very important for everyone, but especially for soldiers.
It is
with your feet that you either stand your ground, and resist,
or retreat and
run away. We are to clothe our feet with the gospel
of peace, and take it
with us everywhere we go, to reconcile with
God and with each other. Many
believers hear the phrase 'the
gospel of peace', and instantly think
vertically, of peace between
God and man. But real peace, as it appears in
the Biblical context,
requires horizontal peace with fellow man in addition
to peace with
God. If we ignore this crucial part of the message, we are
evil overcome good. The tragic result is that many non-believers
followers of Christ, the Prince of Peace, rallying against peace,
seemingly encouraging war.

The word peace has been very misused by humans, especially
in the
Middle East. It does have a spiritual meaning, but that does
not stop it
from also applying to the actual world of flesh and bones.
Pursuing peace
and peacemaking are some of the most important
aspects of spiritual warfare
that is the believer's duty. And it is not
an excuse to claim that true
peace will never come until the return of
Jesus. While this is true, it
still cannot absolve us from our responsibility
to strive for the Kingdom of
God on earth. There is nothing humanistic
about trying to make people stop
killing and hating each other, and making
them stop their everyday life and
actually talk with their 'enemy'. If anything,
the more humanistic approach
is to block any avenue to peace, to find
reasons to continue with the
conflict, to slander others and to destroy. This
is the humanistic approach
because humans are incapable of seeking
peace without God. We humans are
weak, selfish, and predisposed
towards conflict because of our nature. Any
attempt to rise above
the earthly conflict is necessarily a spiritual
affair, for it is impossible
without God. Our focus should be on God, and on
our eternal future, but
we cannot forget that our actions while still on
earth also matter. How we
treat others, our neighbors, and even our enemies,
determines how closely
our lives are in obedience with Christ's teaching.

This is what Musalaha strives for. We seek peace with fellow man
and with God, knowing that there can be no political peace without God,
no spiritual peace or growth, without reconciliation with others.

May this find you all well, and may God bless you.

Salim J. Munayer Ph/D.
Musalaha Director

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