In fact, I can remember so well the class I had in seminary (at Emory University) when another president by the name of Jimmy Carter came and spoke to us about the risk of attaining peace between Egypt and Israel. There was nothing fanciful about it. It was messy, and it was costly.
In many ways, it speaks to what the prophet Jeremiah was saying to the people and leaders of Israel in the 8th century BC, when he warned them about peace when there was no peace (6:14). Jeremiah was like a doctor delivering bad news to a patient. His diagnosis was that, unless the patient took measures to turn to God, the patient would die.
However, the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day gave a “second opinion.” They said, “Don’t listen to Jeremiah; what he is saying is not true; we are going to be just fine.” Jeremiah, however, said otherwise. He said:
“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”
Translation: We cannot fake peace. We can only have peace when we recognize God’s presence, when we affirm the image of God in ourselves and in others, even our enemies, when we face the reality of our condition (Matthew 6:24).
As we celebrate Advent, we need to remember that there is a cost to following the Prince of Peace; there is risk. But there is also hope: there is hope in the One who will fulfill God’s promises – promises that remind us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13): like breaking out of old habits and patterns, or like focusing our attention on the One who make all things new, or like living in truth, no longer captive to what is false, but open to what is real: to God’s grace. How may we receive what God wants to give us in our world? How may we now practice peace in our lives and so share it with others?
Pastor Andy Kinsey