I remember being involved in a holiday club sometime ago where the key ‘characters’ in the story being told during the course of the week were hunting for the ‘Mighty God Sword’. Only as the week came to a close was it revealed that they’d missed the point slightly (!) and the real treasure they were hunting for was ‘Mighty God’s Word’.
Partly inspired by that, and partly by a love of words, I thought I’d post an occasional thought on words that, for me at least, speak something of God’s character. These posts will come under the heading ‘#Godswords’. We’re reminded in Hebrews that, ‘the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword’, so I thought I’d leave the ambiguity in the title – Godswords – words that, when wielded faithfully, are sharp and cut to some part of the essence of God’s nature.
The first word I figured I’d start with is Peace.
As I write, Israel is poised to invade Gaza, while Gaza in turn launches rockets into Israel’s territory.
Also as I write, the Synod of the Church of England is discussing how to proceed with women bishops.
There are, of course, countless other things going on in the world, and these two are not necessarily the most important, but they illustrate for me the very real need for peace. But what is peace?
We often think of peace as a lack of violence. We fall into the trap of defining it by what it isn’t, rather than what it is. And yet, if you askedthe people of Gaza and Israel two weeks ago whether they were enjoying ‘peace’, I don’t think you’d have got much of a positive response. The region is, it seems, permanently tense, as if waiting for the next breach of the ‘peace’. This is no peace at all – it’s the hissing of the stove-top kettle immediately before the whistle goes (or, if you’re more of an electric user, the murmuring of the kettle before the waters start heaving from the heat). It’s a peace that is waiting for an end to peace.
To me, true peace brings with it rest. Peace is not an uneasy and fragile truce, it is not a temporary cessation of hostilities, it is rest. It is not a brief pause, giving time to regroup before the next sortie, it is the final end of conflict.
And what of Synod? Again, there’s an uneasy feeling in the air. One side will ‘win’, the other will ‘lose’, if the reports coming out are to be believed. It seems to me that too many people are seeking ‘victory’, over ‘peace’. They are not the same thing. Victory is to reach a point where one side is happy. True peace is to reach a point where both sides are happy. Given how entrenched many people have become, I wonder if this is possible, and yet I know that my God is a God of Peace.
So, despite my beliefs about women in ministry, and regardless of my views on Israel and Gaza, I will not simply be praying for victory for one side or the other.
I will be praying for peace.