We live in a world that can often seem violent and chaotic. Turn on the news and you are bombarded with stories of war, crime, terrorism, and senseless acts of violence. Social media is filled with angry rants, bullying, and hateful rhetoric. Even entertainment frequently glorifies violence as a means to an end.

With so much violence surrounding us, it can be hard not to become desensitized or even feel that violence is just a natural part of life. However, as people of faith, we are called to a different path – the path of peace. Jesus himself said “Blessed are the peacemakers” and taught his disciples to turn the other cheek rather than retaliate with violence.

Of course, the idea of being peaceful can seem naive when faced with the harsh realities of the world we live in. After all, don’t we need to fight fire with fire? Don’t the bad guys only understand force? Doesn’t violence have its place in protecting the innocent?

These are difficult questions that people have grappled with for centuries. Even in the Bible, we see an apparent tension between the God of the Old Testament who at times employed violence to uphold holiness and justice, and the God of the New Testament revealed through Jesus – the Prince of Peace.

Ultimately though, I don’t think this tension is as stark as it may seem on the surface. Yes, God in the Old Testament did take violent action at times against sin and disobedience. However, this was always a means to an end – the goal was to uphold righteousness and pave the way for the coming of the Messiah who would deal with sin once and for all.

And how did God deal with sin through Jesus? Not through overwhelming violence that destroyed his enemies. But through the seemingly pequee act of sacrificing himself on the cross to forgive sin and overcome death. As the book of Hebrews says, Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” In other words, Jesus reveals the true, peaceful nature of God.

You see, violence and destruction are never God’s desired ends. They are unfortunate necessities brought about by human sin and disobedience – which God hates. God’s true nature is revealed through Jesus who demonstrated the perfection of unconditional love, forgiveness, mercy, and yes, peace.

Jesus didn’t fight violence with violence. He responded to violence with peace, grace, and self-sacrifice. He preached non-retaliation and showed that the true path to overcoming evil is through the overwhelming power of intentional peacemaking. As the apostle Paul wrote, we don’t wage war with weapons of the world, but with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, and faith.

So what does this mean for us as followers of the Prince of Peace? It means we are called to be peacemakers and reconcilers in our violent world. It means pursuing peace even when it’s costly or seems naive. It means forgiving those who wrong us rather than seeking vengeance. It means loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors. It means being ministers of reconciliation who work to heal broken relationships.

None of this is easy. In fact, it’s one of the most radically countercultural concepts there is. It goes against our natural human instincts of self-preservation and retaliation. It’s why the peacemakers are called “blessed” – because it takes an otherworldly type of strength and courage. The way of peace is true spiritual warfare against the forces of violence, hatred, and division that seem to rule our world.

But we take heart knowing that peace always triumphs in the end. Jesus secured that victory for us when he rose from the grave, conquering sin, violence, and even death itself through his peaceful self-sacrifice. And from that act has sprung a movement of peacemakers down through the centuries who have shown that the way of peace is always more powerful than the way of the sword.

So in a world that can seem hopelessly violent, be encouraged. We follow the Prince of Peace. And in him, we have the ultimate assurance that love and peace will reign forever when his kingdom is fully established. In the meantime, let’s be faithful ambassadors of that present-yet-coming reality in the way we relate to our families, our friends, our communities, and even our enemies.

Yes, we may face violence and injustice. But our calling is clear – to overcome evil with good, hatred with love, and violence with the transformative power of peace.

Here are 4 reflection questions with scripture references related to the blog post:

  1. Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers” in Matthew 5:9. Are there areas of unrest or conflict in your life where you need to pursue peace? What would it look like to be a “peacemaker” in those situations?
  2. In Romans 12:17-21, Paul instructs believers: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil…Do not take revenge…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” When have you faced the temptation to retaliate or seek vengeance? How can you apply this teaching to overcome evil with good?
  3. Jesus demonstrated the way of peace through his willing sacrifice on the cross. Philippians 2:5-8 says to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” who “made himself nothing” and “humbled himself” to the point of death on a cross. What are some practical ways you can cultivate more of this self-sacrificing, humble attitude of Jesus?
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:18 states that believers have been given “the ministry of reconciliation.” Think about relationships in your life that are strained or broken. What can you do to pursue biblical reconciliation and be a minister of peace in those situations?

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About the Author: Tony Johnson
Tony Johnson is the lead pastor of 2|42 Community Church where he is helping people take next steps with God. Prior to his time at 2|42, Tony served for 15 years in various capacities within the Methodist denomination. He has degrees in broadcasting and marketing from Vincennes University and Ball State University, and he’s also a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. Tony is passionate about helping people discover and embrace their God-given purpose and potential. In his spare time, you can find Tony cheering on the Miami Dolphins or camping and fishing with his family.

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