2 Peter 3:11-14
“… what sort of people ought you to be… waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God..”
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
-The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am an unabashed, unapologetic, unrelenting peacenik.
I have this crazy, insane, altruistic, pie-in-the-sky, loving belief that the world would be a better place if when we look into the eyes of others, that somewhere behind the differences we could see the reflection of God breathed into each of us at creation.
And that, in seeing the reflection of God in others — a reflection that will necessarily expand the reflection of God in us — we would choose to make peace with them rather than war, we would choose to pursue peace rather than strife, we would choose to nurture peace rather than build division, to practice peace rather than spread hate.
In brief, we would choose to be the peace.
Will the world ever fully realize potential for real peace? Well, maybe or maybe not.
At the very least, not yet. We are living during the in-between time, the waiting time.
Much like people thousands of years ago waited for the coming of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, today, Christians are waiting for that moment when we are reunited with God and peace is realized.
During this season of Advent, part of what we are doing is recognizing that we are still waiting for Peace to come.
Which leaves me with the impossibly simple and yet impossibly difficult question, how do we help bring this peace? How can we be the Peace?
The peaceful protests that have broken out across the US in the wake of Ferguson is one of many signs of how we do that. It takes people recognizing the humanity in each other; people recognizing the divine in one another; people recognizing the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity and then responding with love.
People being willing to be the peace.
People being willing to stand up again and again and again for equality for all people.
People being willing to recognize that until there is peace and equality for all, there is peace and equality for no one.
The thing that frustrates me about the season of Advent is all of this confounded waiting. It’s supposed to be hopeful (hope full, even) but it just has a tendency to feel so overwhelmingly restrictive, passive and dormant.
I think my frustration is shared by others, and points to a problem with how we wait.
How should we wait? What should we do in the midst of our waiting? Thankfully, this is an easy question. The answer is found in 2 Peter, chapter 3. The question is even asked for us, as if to leave no doubt: “what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?”
And the answer that follows is simple: “while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found… at peace.”
We are to be found at peace.
And peace is not a lackadaisical pursuit.
It requires action.
At the very least it requires us to speak out on the behalf of peace.
This is an active waiting for peace. It is done in the streets of our cities, on the campuses of colleges, online and in prayer. It is done by actively listening to those who are not being treated justly and by adding our voices to calls for justice. Waiting for peace is done in the face of systems that wish to perpetuate the dominance of one group over another. It is done despite the militarization of those who are entrusted with keeping the peace.
Most importantly, it is done. We cannot, we must not, keep silent.
Dr. King once said: “A time comes when silence is betrayal. Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak out with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”
We must become people who, in all that we say and do, are about peace.
That is what we are to do during this time of waiting; we are to actively be about being peacemakers.
Until there is peace.
Until there is equality for all, regardless of skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.
Will those days of peace ever come?
I do not know.
But this I do know: while we are waiting for them, we must be found to be actively pursuing them.