Preserving Peace in a Time of War
And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. Luke 22:47-51
There’s a lot of war in the Bible. Early in the Bible’s history, war was about conquest, because various tribes were trying to establish their boundaries. Now the boundaries are pretty much set. In most cases, everybody knows which country is which. We already have empires. And yet we still have war! Now war is about economic power, or taking someone’s land, or getting access to oil, or water, or trade routes. But one way or another, most wars are started in hate. Whether it’s inter-religious hate or hatred between nations, war is almost always begun in hate.
When Jesus said, “Preserve peace,” I don’t think He was making an anti-war statement. I believe there are wars that have to be fought, and there will be war in the end times. This is part of what the Bible says is going to happen: wars and rumors of wars. So it is not necessarily my goal to picket against wars. My goal is to preserve peace. And the only way to preserve peace is to love. If you love people, there will be peace.
A big part of the Christian’s duty is to preserve peace, and we do that by loving our neighbors as ourselves. And as you have read many times in this blog, we love our neighbors as ourselves by helping those who are in need. That a love that preserves peace. Judging someone? No. You’re not preserving peace by judging people. I don’t think that you’ve ever judged someone and then they’ve said to you, “You know what? Thanks for judging me. I feel a lot more peaceful now that you’ve judged me and condemned me.” You don’t see that happen!
I truly believe that replacing judgment with love is how we should conduct our affairs. But I understand that in our flesh, it’s really hard to do that. When we see something wrong, we want to handle it ourselves. God says, “Judge not,” and we want to answer, “Yeah, I know, but this isn’t right, and he needs to know it!” We are always going to struggle with this as ambassadors of Christ.
Jesus didn’t have that struggle. He never struggled with it. Jesus would say something to somebody, and it was over. He wasn’t ever physically required to make things right. And He showed us another way. When Peter cut off the ear of that guy trying to grab Him, Jesus put the guy’s ear back on! And He said to Peter, “Put your sword away. What are you doing? We’re preserving peace here. I’m going to die for mankind, so that they have a hope. You don’t cut a guy’s ear off. You don’t understand what you’re doing.” And then Jesus preserved peace. He put the guy’s ear back on!
This is just so hard for us to do. I would cut the guy’s ear off in a cold minute, and I just wouldn’t care! I understand Peter completely! “You’re attacking my God, so I’m going to cut your ear off. You’re lucky I don’t kill you.” In that time and place, no one would have told Peter he was wrong. Just as people would have understood if I’d punched that guy for insulting my little boy, no one would have spoken against Peter for defending Jesus. But Jesus showed us another way. He preserved peace.
Compared to God, we are really limited in what we can do. I believe we truly want to do what’s right. We want to make things right. And in our desire, sometimes we lose control. When you lose control of wanting to make things right, you want to attack. You want to regain control. We all do that. But it’s not preserving peace. It was just a really good thing, man, that Jesus gave me an out that night in the parking lot. And He always does. You just have to look for it.