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The Christ, The Prince of Peace

Christ did not come to bring peace but to bring a sword
Christ did not come to bring peace but to bring a sword

“Glory in the highest” the angels sang, “and on earth peace, goodwill to men.”

From this first joyful proclamation of Jesus’ birth to this day, Jesus’ name has been used by advocates for peace of all kinds regardless of those advocates belief in and surrender to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Pastor Todd preached Sunday on the hard thought that Christ did not come to bring the peace we men expected. In Matthew 10 Jesus proclaims something seemingly directly contrary to the angel’s words:

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Isn’t the Messiah supposed to bring peace? After all, the angels could not be lying, could they? I’m so confused!

Elsewhere Jesus seems to confirm the angels and contradict Himself:

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)

The Jews Jesus was preaching to in Matthew 10 were expecting a Messiah who would wage one final war and end all conflict with Israel as the masters of the universe. They were expecting the Prince of Peace to beat the Romans into submission and enthrone their own county in the seat of eternal power. Forget Pax Romana, they wanted Pax Iudeah.

The Jews were correct, in once sense: the peace Christ brought would be achieved through final conflict.

In John 14 Jesus is speaking specifically to His disciples, and by extension, to those who believe in Him as their Savior and Lord. He reinforces the distinction between His peace and the peace the rest of the world claims by stating He will not give His peace the same way the world gives.

There are two different kinds and times of peace that Christ is bringing to mankind. The instant and constant kind enjoyed only by those who have fought Christ and lost and surrendered and now live in subjection to His will and in His protection. And the future, hoped-for peace which will only come about when all mankind ceases it’s striving with God, the vice-grip of sin is broken from every heart, and the deceiver and tormentor and death are cast, along with all their minions and followers, into the pit of eternal destruction in God’s wrath.

The peace Christ  brought at his birth was the instant and constant peace available to those who put their faith in Him. In that same birth He began the final process up to the final day with the final trumpet shall sound, ushering in that final, lasting, and universal peace.

Wishing and hoping for universal peace on this earth is a hopeless and pointless task. Sin is the dominant force in the majority of people’s hearts, and sin is selfish. Sinners will not even agree together, and even God had not sent His Son to bring even greater conflict, the sinners themselves would find conflict enough among themselves.

Christ’s presence in this world brings even greater reason for conflict. The coming of Christ brought not the peace we men hoped for but the seed to greater conflict due to the presence of truth and those who would not and will not accept it.

Christ brought truth and truth wars against the lies which hold so many captive. Those who remain captive to the lies of the world also war with vehemence against the truth and those who have surrendered to it. The conflict is mutual and inescapable.

Peace on this earth is reserved only to those who surrender to Him and live in allegiance to His will. Peace in eternity is only given to the same.

This is not an exclusive claim because the means of salvation is freely available to all. There is no person alive not permitted to surrender to Christ, and God makes clear throughout the bible His will that no one should perish. This is the goodwill to men, that God, who worked with man despite his sin, provided the way out of the penalty for that sin.

Have We Forgotten?

With the elections of November 2006, the overall victorious party, the Democrats, claimed they’d been given a “mandate” regarding many issues, particularly the War on Terror. They claim the American people have spoken and that the only allowable course now is withdrawal and defeat. Though they speak specifically of the Iraqi War, their master policy is reflective of their general disenchantment with the whole war against terror. This belief in a “mandate”, the word du jour for giving credence to the questionably credible, does seem to be born out by the recent polls, as reported on CNN and the BBC, showing 2/3 of Americans don’t see a good plan for winning the War in Iraq.

While it is only barely debatable that the Iraq War is not going the way we’d hoped, not even complete failure is a viable reason for ever giving up, especially in this war where it is our homes, families, businesses, our way of life, and our lives themselves which are at stake. After all, this war began, at least this current phase, with the enemy attaching us, on our turf, killing our husbands and wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, innocents all. Even many jihadists agree that non-combatants, civilians, and innocents are off-limits to any kind of attack. But attacked we were, and though it has now been several years since that attack we vowed we’d never forget, it was neither the first nor will it be the last, the danger is little abated. Is there then reason for throwing up our hands collectively, defeated?

Liberals would say emphatically “Yes!”

The current strategy, according to liberals, is not working, and therefore we must tuck tail and run. Defeatism leading to disengagement, with the ultimate goal of isolationism. An island we will be, literally and figuratively. And we having cried “uncle,” the rabid dogs hounding us around the world will allow us a gracious defeat and will let us be, alone. A final Vietnam this will be, America will no longer find the will to project itself and then indeed others will take the reins of power in the world. Except for several things, but first: Where in our governing documents and illustrious history do we the people determine the minutiae of war policy?

We expressly give the President power to direct and wage war as necessary and as he sees fit to protect our interests. This is, in part, why it is so very important that there be people of Character in high office leading this great nation. There cannot be a part-time person of character, for if at the first change of wind that person reassesses and changes their position, they are not truly a person of character. President Bush, for all anybodies disagreements with him personally and politically, has not changed course. He has stated his goal simply: to defeat terrorism whenever and wherever it is found, and has not changed. Whether agreeing with him or not, one can know what President Bush will continue to do. And the job is not finished. Far from it. The very fact of our experiencing difficulties in Iraq should be cause for us to redouble our efforts, reaffirming the need for such a battle now, before it is too late. And resolving to continue the fight we did not start in order to destroy the enemy who would destroy us.

For that is their goal whether we leave or not. The militant, radical, extremist Muslims, or Islamo-Nazis or Islamo-Facists, who began this war have a very public goal which they are not loath to tell, yet which we seem to have forgotten, it would seem. That goal is shouted by radical Imams (preachers or prayer leaders) and written officially as Fatwahs (edicts) and published to their adherents around the globe. America is the Great Satan and it and other nations which do not submit to their extreme Islamic theology, philosophy, and government must be destroyed, period. For them there is no discussion, no arguing the points and possibilities of peaceful coexistance. If we give up in Iraq and the other fronts of the War on Terror we are signing our own, our childrens’, and out entire futures’ death warrants. They will be utterly defeated or they will rule the world, there is no third option for them, and therefore there isn’t for us either.

So then, the only choice for us must be to continue to face them in classic American projectionism. To battle evil is the calling and constant duty of the good. Evil at different times and places takes different faces. Consider the World Wars of the last century. What if we’d given up because too many were dying? What if we’d accepted defeat at the hands of the Nazis? It is likely all of Europe would be enslaved to this day by them or another despotic regime along with most or all of Africa and the East. Prior to our engagement in that war it was the Republican Party arguing for isolationism against engagement, just to show how times and ideas change.

Just as in the World Wars, others are depending, both admittedly and unadmittedly, on our success. The United Kingdom continues to be our staunchest ally, showing classic British, Scottish, Irish and Welsh pluck and courage and an indomitable spirit. Mr. Blair has perhaps been more eloquent in his defence of the War and has used his bully pulpit more often explaining the rationale for our continued involvement in this fight than President Bush. Spain has given up after suffering great pain and loss of its own on its own shores. Instead of steeling its resolve as the London Train Bombings did for the United Kingdom, Spains’ Madrid Train Bombings broke the resolve of Castilla. Regardless of the allies individual or collective spines, though, if we fail, Spain will once again become a Moorish conquest, and this will not be an Islamic Kingdom such as that of the Moors of old who valued art and learning and to whom we owe a great debt for their careful preservation and translation of many priceless works of knowledge and beauty.

So if America were indeed to falter and fail, and retreat within its borders, who would then take the lead in the world? Who has the strength and ability, and more importantly the moral fiber and the national will?

There are few countries indeed who do not have the desire to lead the world the way America has led. The relevant question really is not would they, but could they and should they. The UK has perhaps the nearest moral fiber (nationally) to America. Willing to take unpopular stands around the world in what they see as preservation of good. However, by size they are physically unable to produce enough to lead economically. A leading nation must be able to produce enough to be nearly self-sufficient if necessary. They must be an economic powerhouse challenging all others to give it weight enough for it’s word to mean something. The European Union has shown it does not have the moral fiber to stand against evil at crucial times. Like the UN, when it comes to actual meaningful action, the EU is hampered by it’s own universality, someone is always involved with the enemy and therefore no one can do what must be done. Further, being based on “old-world” economies, it does not produce or consume enough, even collectively, to give it’s word weight beyond it’s member n ations.

In Asia, both China and India have the size, and economic and political/military might and/or potential. However, China is hampered by an immoral, communist quasi-dictatorship, and even if democracy or some less greedily repressive and philosophically backward form of government than comunism were to take over immediately, the people would not soon be ready for world domination and protection. India perhaps has the best chance of becoming a or the world dominant nation, post America, but even they suffer under a socially restrictive religion, social order, and government.

African and South American nations suffer almost universally under corrupt, despotic governments and appear too busy enriching their own upper crusts illegitimately to worry too much about their being the trailing end of the nations of the world. Russia seems unable to throw off cronyism and corruption in business or the siren song of a communist government.

Those nations among our allies in the Middle East have their hands much too full trying to set their houses in order without offending any of their geographical or theological brethren, and many of them officially support ideologies as destructive and evil as any of their more violent neighbors who we’re now in struggle against

So that leaves America. Oh, and not to offend anybody, but who’s heard anything out of our northern neighbor Canada recently? I’m told it’s a beautiful place and the people there are special and nice and kind, but they appear to be content, in a global perspective, being frosting, a whole lot of white stuff, on top of the United States. That and trying to win the title “More Socialist Than France While Still Drinking Beer (Wine Is For Sissies).” So here we are, the lone strongman holdout against the encroaching darkness, to whom all others cling. Some more grudgingly than others. But this is what we are fighting for, the whole world. This is the responsibility that comes with being the nice big kid on the block: We have to face every bully. And if we don’t win, this particularly bully is a rapist.

Priorities Of Preservation

There is a push today to limit human suffering, to prevent any pain from occurring at all. This cringing drive is so rabid that a father sues his daughters’ school when she is stung by a bee on the school yard. There are schools refusing to allow recess, there are schools sanitizing their play equipment, removing anything which may remotely cause any risk. The schools don’t have a choice, the parents will sue them out of existence if their children encounter the slightest discomfort.

This issue here is contained in the fundamental difference in perspective cause by a proper understanding of mans inherent value before a creator God. A humanist will not

Compare this to the lifestyle lived by many Christians seeking to save the soul and the mind. In God’s design the body is temporary, it dies, but the soul is immortal, it is freed from the body by death and lives forever. To a Christian, more important than the body is the soul. A Christian may be called to give up their life, literally or figuratively, to save peoples’ souls. A Christian does not discount the value of a body. You find Christians at the forefront of most of the humanitarian efforts around the world, seeking to protect the bodies of millions of human lives, regardless of whether or not those being protected are Christian or not. The Christian seeks to preserve the body because under God we are all equally valuable, and because the body is the corporeal home of a soul which either needs saving or has a life to live and purposes yet to accomplish.

The world seeks to preserve the body, while summarily dismissing the mind, allowing anything whatsoever to creep its way into the receptive, untrained recesses. And even then they desire to allow anything we want to be used on our body, so long as we do the choosing. We can choose abortion, we can choose drugs, we can choose tattoos, just so long as we do the choosing. It is a matter of control. God is God, He holds choice in His hands. He allows us to choose all the time, but there are many times He chooses for us,for His glory, for our good. Mankind does not want God to choose for us. All of nature are God’s tools, and He wields Nature for the furthering of His plans. As we seek to limit the influence of God over our lives we will find Nature rising up and thwarting our plans, exerting His control over us.

I love butterflies. I have lots of experience with butterflies. I worked over the course of 2 or 3 consecutive summers for a local butterfly farm in my home town. We bred and raised monarch butterflies and sold them for weddings funerals, graduations, research, etc… There is a crucial stage of every butterflies development when the caterpillar has grown to the right maturity level it crawls to the underside of the leaf in the wild or our special rearing containers in the lab and in a weird jerking dance encloses itself in a chrysalis. The caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis, a fundamental change in it’s very nature and emerges and beautiful and brilliant butterfly. The escape from the chrysalis is one of the most important passages in its brief life. Without this struggle the butterfly will die. With the metamorphosis complete the chrysalis turns transparent and the orange and black wings are scrunched against the body in the little space left by the bulging abdomen of the butterfly. The butterfly braces itself against the chrysalis wall and pushes until the skin of the chrysalis breaks at the butterflies shoulders. The butterfly pulls itself with great difficulty out of the chrysalis shell and hangs from it, pumping its wings slowly it pushes the fluids from it’s distended abdomen into its wings, inflating them slowly until they are stiff and straight.

If the butterfly were to fall too easily out of the chrysalis, it would not have the strength to pump its wings full of the fluid. The stunted wings would hang limply in a bundle at the doomed insects side and it will die. There is not an option here. The butterfly either engages in an intense and painful struggle or it dies.

We as humans need pain and need struggles to grow many times. Pain and discomfort serve many purposes and there is no way I can explore all of them here. Pain can mean we’re human and we live in a physical world. It is a sensation, a feeling. A bee sting means that we offended a bee and he is willing to give his life in order to offend us a little. Pain can be a warning. A hot stove burns us and we are careful not to put out hands there again. Pain can be growth. The aches and pains of childhood as our bodies stretch to new and unfamiliar heights are not bad, but merely a sign that we’ll not be looking quite so far up at the rest of the world very much longer. Pain is not bad, it is an indicator, a sign.

And yet, in spite of the necessity and normalcy, the elite of our culture push for protection of the body. Control.

The Christian perspective is different. The soul and the mind are more important because they exist eternally. The body is just a temporary home.

For The Love Of Power

Peanuts Comic: April 5th 1961

Political Power, unlike money, is a zero sum game.

In order for one to gain and consolidate more of it, another must lose it through neglect and carelessness or bitter struggle.

At the same time, power is not necessarily directly correlated with size. A large organization can run fluidly and freely given good leadership and skilled and involved members. A power-grabbing entity does tend to bloat with those drawn to power and the ease of corruption.

It is not size that corrupts, but immoral people.

The presidential race should give us each an opportunity to see honestly and completely the morals, ethics, and skills of those who would lead us but which instead tends to show us carefully scripted appearances controlled by any number of variously corrupt entities.

The candidates themselves try to control their images. None of them have nothing to hide, and therefore, they dodge and obfuscate.

The media, with it’s control over what is shown in living rooms across the world, has a powerful ability to shape the discourse. If it doesn’t show up on the nightly news, it didn’t happen.

Charles Kessler, in a speech before Hillsdale College summarized in In Primis, speaks to the difference between size and power, and how size and corruption are not necessarily related.

Juan Gonzalez, in the New York Daily News, tells the sordid tale of pork and corruption which has birthed an amazingly idiotic tax hike in downtown New York:

No one could recall such a naked combination of arm-twisting and pork-barrel handouts to pressure City Council members to approve the huge tax increase known as congestion pricing.

The real problem is always complex and deep, but a significant part of the root is that we, the people, don’t really care.

Like Charlie Brown’s baseball team, we don’t want to be held accountable for our government. We pass the buck to the elected officials, who pass the buck on and on.

If we and a larger percentage of the population of America took responsibility for our government, there would not be a problem of usurpation of power and conglomeration of authority.

An aware and concerned citizenry is a powerful citizenry and the bane of corrupt politics everywhere.

Such Sensitivity

Alex Tokarev, writing in World on the Web comments on the current status of post-slavery racial sensitivity in America:

I’m from Bulgaria and still learning more about English language usage. Impressed by one of the presidential hopefuls I told my cousin,”This boy, Obama, is the best orator of them all.” She looked at me with fear and explained that it was dangerous to call a black man “boy,” since slave owners had used that term for their male slaves in the nineteenth century. It did not matter that I was not a slave-owner or that Obama had never been a slave.

Maybe you have to be an outsider to be surprised at such sensitivity, but I should point out that the world knows about slavery and segregation in America. It will benefit America to learn the history of the world. Other nations have had much worse for many more centuries and they do not brood on the past as much.