Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Peace or Anger? (Letter to a Brother) Page 19

“When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come!’. And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him,” (Revelation 6:3-4).

As, at your request, I have pondered the juxtaposition of peace and anger, of peace and hatred, I have been struck more and more by the swelling and roaring waves of anger, anxiety, and hatred in our generation. It is as if the red horse of Revelation 6 is on a rampage – when peace is absent men turn on one another, and when men turn on one another peace is absent. We only kill with the sword when we have first killed with our hearts; our words follow our hearts, our actions follow our words. Eye and ears that drink violence sow seeds of violence in the soul that will bear the poisonous fruit of violence in words and deeds.

The peace that materialism offers, the peace that religion and “spirituality” offers, the peace that political and economic systems offer – is illusionary and never satisfies. Transitory peace entices us with unfilled promises that in turn beckon us farther into a labyrinth with the false hope that lasting peace and tranquility is just around the corner. Much of the professing church markets peace and self-fulfillment and self-esteem as an alternative to the world, as if the church were a competitor in a retail marketplace – this element of the church takes its cue from the world just as corporations do. There is lasting peace in none of the foregoing; frustrated peace leads to anger and anger thwarts peace.

I don’t think we see the danger of a continual diet of anger; I don’t think we see that it can warp the soul and destroy Christian witness. Followers of Jesus Christ cannot be angry day after day with impunity. There is an irony in Christians being preoccupied with teaching about the “Last Days”, speculating about what is next in world events, when (however you care to look at it) we live in a time when the red horse is rampaging through our generation, removing peace from the earth…and by the way…removing peace from our own lives, our family life, and from many gatherings of Christians. Many in the professing church are so angry about political, social, economic, and even moral issues that they have forgotten that we are to be peacemakers and ambassadors of reconciliation.

We are called, as much as possible, to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). Paul writes that the “…kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another,” (Romans 14:17 – 19). The context of Romans 14 is the church; we must be a people of peace in our church community in order to radiate peace into the world – but too often our conversation when we gather is not one focused on peace and reconciling the world to God, but rather on agendas that have nothing to do with the kingdom of God. The red horse runs up and down and through the professing church and we don’t know it – we think anger and vitriol is normal. We are more focused on Washington, New York, and Hollywood than we are on the New Jerusalem – we can quote media commentators more easily and freely than the Scriptures.

We must beware the red horse. We must fear lest we invite the red horse into our souls, our families, our churches, our friendships. We must also be prepared to suffer, for I think that it is only through suffering that we can know peace – I will pick this up on the next post in this series.

  “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”

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