By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
In the Fall of 1972, I bought a plaque in the Texas Lutheran University bookstore with the message… “There never was a good war; nor a bad PEACE.” No attribution was attached. Just the quote. It was the first thing I put on my dormitory wall. Afterall, the Viet Nam conflict was the talk of the town in those days and the words on the plaque spoke to my heart. The message went with me to my next apartment and that plaque was the first thing I put up on the wall and the last thing I’d take down when moving from place to place. Call it a ritual of faith… but that’s what I did… and… that plaque hung on my church office walls for 39 years… being helpful to my spirit, and still does as it currently hangs in the study of my home. Only recently did I discover the author…
Long ago, in July 1783, in a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society of London, it was Benjamin Franklin who penned those words… “There never was a good war; nor a bad PEACE.” This was two years after the Battle of Yorktown. The USA was just getting ready to bloom! And, yet, as life includes a mix of war and peace, some are more familiar with the war part than the peace part and others experience some peace only because of the efforts of those who engaged in battle. But Jesus’ brand of peace is not just the absence of conflict. That would be too easy. Remember… faith matters, as we all believe in something…
Battles continue. War is being waged. Today the enemy is microscopic. Others say the battle is bigger than that. Still, I wonder when the world will get serious about waging PEACE.
The word, PEACE, shows up in the Bible over 400 times. The word, war, appears about 200 times. It seems, then, God prefers peace to war using those kinds of numbers… and I can rightly say that God has not been responsible for any of the wars waged in the last 2000 years anyway! It must frustrate the Holy Spirit to know the powers of governments have the capacity to blow the earth up five times when we all know once would be enough. Just a thought about who’s responsible for what.
According to the Bible story… God sent angels to the shepherds in their fields announcing that a new king was being born in Bethlehem… bringing ‘PEACE on earth and good will to all!” History bears this out… that Jesus of Nazareth was a man of peace and these words above from St. John’s gospel point that out, too… that he wanted his followers to hold on to the peace that only Jesus could provide. Yet, over the centuries, many wars have been fought in Jesus’ name… creating a mountain range of mayhem, destruction, and death while there are still those who try to walk in Jesus’ footsteps and model his way of peace. It’s not been an easy thing and A.J. Muste, the Christian pacifist, was right… saying… “There is no way to peace; peace is the way.” Maybe he and Ben Franklin were related.
And now… as Christmas fast approaches, the world could use a little ‘peace on earth and good will to all,’ don’t you think? You know… ‘a peace that passes all human understanding’ kind of peace… the kind St. Paul wrote about to his Philippian friends… one we can all share in!
The PEACE Jesus gifts the world this Christmas is again, himself, amid all our worries and all that ails humanity. I googled ‘peace on earth’ on amazon.com only to find everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs to wind chimes but not the kind of peace that Jesus offers… besides… his is free! No shipping needed. It’s already here!
The Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches over the last four decades in Texas and Louisiana. You can read more following his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Comments and / or questions can be sent to [email protected].