As this world staggers from armed conflict to armed conflict, what’s to prevent the downward spiral from escalating into another world war? Where can we discover the elusive secrets of peace? And where can we find a truly effective peacemaker?
If you search for peacemaker, you’ll likely find these: A George Clooney/Nicole Kidman action movie. A punk rock song. A video game. A historical manga. A six-shooter of the Old West.
The irony of some of these reflects humanity’s hopelessness about finding real peace.
Of course, there are many dedicated, hard-working diplomats and Nobel Peace Prize candidates who strive mightily to achieve peace. But most of them would acknowledge that in spite of their best efforts, humanity still continues headlong in its pursuit of war.
Where can we find a real, effective peacemaker to bring an end to the death, destruction, misery and suffering of war?
After World War II, the nations of the world came together to create an organization to try to prevent war and promote peace. Over the years, United Nations “peacekeepers” have become a major part of that effort.
How are these peacekeeping efforts going?
According to the United Nations Peace Operations Year in Review 2010, “peacekeeping continues to confront a range of substantive challenges and issues. These include maintaining the consent of the parties to a peacekeeping operation; trying to keep peace when there is no peace to keep; upholding UN impartiality; and deciding when to use force within the scope of a mission’s means and mandate” (p. 2).
Scanning the 84-page report reveals a world of complexity and intractable problems generally overlooked as the American news media focuses on the crisis (or the celebrity scandal) du jour.
In 2010 there were more than 120,000 military, police and civilians serving in peacekeeping operations under the UN flag. Since 1948, about $69 billion has been spent on 64 peacekeeping missions (15 of which are ongoing), and nearly 3,000 peacekeepers have given their lives (pp. 4, 76).
Although there have been terrible cases of misconduct by some peacekeepers, few would argue that the peacekeeping missions did not prevent violence and keep a lid on various conflicts in some of the world’s hottest hot spots. But keep peace? Not so much. There is precious little peace to keep, and the simmering tensions rarely go away.
The Bible summarizes man’s efforts bluntly: The leaders say, “‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). “Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:15-17).
So if humanity’s best efforts at peacemaking and peacekeeping have at best slowed the rush toward war, where can we turn? Is peace possible?
The Prince of Peace
Though humanity has been blind to it, there is a way that leads to peace. As elusive as this knowledge has been, the way that produces peace is not mysterious and it does not require a genius to understand. A 5-year-old could understand it, but the intelligentsia of this world have rejected it and never given it a real chance.
The way to peace was taught by the Prince of Peace—Jesus Christ—who promised to return one day to rescue humanity from self-destruction and bring real peace (Matthew 24:22). Then, in the coming Kingdom of God, “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children” (Isaiah 54:13).
What will the children be taught then that will produce peace? The same thing that God has always taught: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).
The law—God’s law—is what Jesus Christ taught and expanded on in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17-20). For example, Jesus taught that the spiritual intent of the Sixth Commandment against murder includes unjust anger and verbal abuse—some of the sparks that often ignite hatred, vengeance and war.
When everyone learns to obey this law—as well as the spiritual intent of all the Ten Commandments, summarized in the two Great Commandments of love for God and love for others (Matthew 22:37-40)—then the result will be peace.
It will take some prodding at first from the Prince of Peace, but the result will be the fulfillment of humanity’s dreams of peace: “He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).
And it will get even better! “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).
God is calling people to follow the Prince of Peace now. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).