There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1934 (from Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas)
This was remarkable to me (and convicting), and the coincidence of reading it on MLK's birthday was not lost on me.
Bonhoeffer was an up-and-coming theologian with lots of promise. He came from a wealthy, prominent and close-knit German family. He had everything to lose when the Nazis came to power and the German church capitulated, becoming a Nazi church, rather than the church of Christ. But rather than remain safely ensconced in his academic ivory tower, he risked everything to fight the anti-Christian efforts of the Nazis.
Peace is not the same as the absence of conflict, particularly while there is evil in the world. To not oppose evil - whether in the form of personal sin or the political and economic evils we see around the world (see Rwanda, or Sudan, or - is not peace. It's cowardice and abdication. And Jesus has called us to more.
But this is hard, isn't it? Stability and security - especially the economic or emotional varieties - are a big deal. I'll be real honest: I'm personally not a big fan of conflict or criticism, even when I can hide behind a computer or a drum set. I can't imagine risking arrest, imprisonment, death and public claims of being a traitor to my country like Bonhoeffer faced. I'm struggling with much smaller things. In so many ways, I want security and stability, and as a fallen sinner in a fallen, sinful world, the status quo is the enemy of peace. But if I'm honest, I'm not sure I have the courage to really pursue peace on a day to day basis.
What about you? Do you really have the courage and fortitude to truly desire peace? Or will you settle for the idol of security - the kind of control and stability that comes from a relationship, or a full bank account or 401k? The kind that comes from professional achievement or the illusion of control over the direction of your life?
Pray for me, and I'll pray for you - that God would give us the courage to truly pursue peace... even if it means we have to give up stability and security. Because doing that means we're truly living out God's call to us as His body, as His Church. And the world around us is literally dying because we're not doing it.