Words of Hope: The Things that Make for Peace 

One of the recent devotional messages asked me to picture Jesus as He weeps over Jerusalem. He laments, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” This phrase has been ringing in my mind all day. I love unity and yet I am fierce. I hate contention yet I am contentious. I consider in my life what makes for peace and war.  

It is hard to know how to handle violence enacted against you. How much of our violence comes in reaction to violence enacted? Violence meted out is such a compelling answer to violence received. It has the seductive quality of perceived satiety for the ravenous pain.  

What are the things that make for peace though? Equity, unity, love, forgiveness, truth, goodness, reconciliation, hope…all these things make peace.  

To paraphrase what Martin Luther King says about the balance of love and power, “Love without power is anemic and weak and power without love is abusive and reckless.” 

My husband Shann writes in his book Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity, “Yet the greater echo of King’s words still ring true: when we love the oppressor, we bring about not only our own salvation, but the salvation of the oppressor. In these words, we find solace regarding our own failures, the inequities and injustices, the character flaws, the great harms. Members of our own families can live with an ongoing sense of loving and being loved. Women and men in our communities can be true women, and true men, not displaced, not diminished. And in our workplaces, we can work with joy, a sense of calling, and the personal meaning that accompanies good work. These things are possible, for it is in the servant leader, in the servant leader’s journey toward healing the self, towards serving the heart of humanity, that an answer to the failures of leadership emerges.” 

What are the things that make for war? Atrocity, cruelty, domination, lack of listening, hatred, revenge, ego, greed, scarcity, blame, conflicting goals, violence, disunity.  

I think of these when I engage with others. I think about the words I use. Do they move me toward peace or toward war? It becomes obvious when I granularly look at what I am thinking and saying. The things of peace bring love and unity. The things of war bring hate and division. I want to be a person who recognizes the things that make for peace. 

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. – Romans 14:19