Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Way of Peace

I love the Book of Acts.

A major theme of its opening chapters is the conversion of the former enemies of the Saints to "the Way." (The term "Christianity" didn't come along until quite a bit later!) Acts is a story of hatred and fear overcome not through war but by the power of the Spirit.

It starts in chapter two when Peter confronts some of those responsible for the murder of his Lord. They are "pricked in their hearts" and ask, "What shall we do?" Peter invites them to be baptized and to join him and the other Saints. And then he welcomes them into the church.

Everyone knows the story of Saul of Tarsus, who consented to the murder of Stephen and who hunted down the Saints in Jerusalem and Damascus, "breathing out destruction" against them. When I arrive in the eternal realm, I want to look up Barnabus and have a chat with him. The Saints were scared to death of that man Saul. None of them wanted anything to do with him, and with reason. The scriptures say, "But Barnabus took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way." That took guts!

When peace comes to us in our day -- wherever we lack peace and yearn for it -- it will come about not through victory in war, but through conversion, through reconciliation, through the vanquishing not of enemies but of enmity itself. That is "the Way" that Christ taught.

That requires true faith. You have to believe in and love yourself before you can hope that others will believe in and love you. You have to believe in the possibility of peace. You might have to walk in the line of fire, in the No Man's Land between warring sides, like Barnabus did.

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