Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grace Proceeds Peace

I am just now beginning to really process the various experiences from my recent trip to Israel and Jordan.  I hope to write a few blog posts on insights that I came back with in the coming days.
The Western Wall, Jerusalem


One of the most insightful parts of the trip was a debate I attended one evening on the subject of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  The debate was held in the hotel in which we were staying and featured a Palestinian Christian University Professor on one side versus an Israeli Jew and owner of the Hotel on the other side.  While this event was billed as a debate it was very cordial as these two men were also good friends. 

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
While I won’t go into all of the various issues covered in the debate, I realized for the first time just how complex these issues really are.  It seems that many of us in the West, particularly in America have a way of oversimplifying issues that are not as black and white as we might imagine.  These are complex problems that involve aggression, religion, oppression, displacement of people, erecting of barriers, economic stability, and water rights, issues that go back thousands of years.   As the debate went on, I began to realize why peace in the Middle East seems so illusive.

The best part of the debate was the closing comments of the moderator (a seminary professor from the States).  He closed by noting that the Apostle Paul began almost every one of his letters with “Grace and Peace” not “Peace and Grace” because for true peace to come it must be proceeded by grace.  Grace is offering someone something that they don’t deserve and didn’t earn.  This is what Jesus offers to us and is the basis for the peace we receive in our lives when we surrender to him.  As Irish rockstar Bono noted, grace breaks the cycle of Karma.  This is what makes the good news such amazingly good news – we don’t get what we deserve!  Instead we get more than we can ever imagine in Christ.  When we live in this reality of God’s grace towards us we become people of peace and conduits of grace to others. 

So, this day, may we come to more fully realize the grace of Christ in our lives so that we may bring his grace and peace to bear on the world around us.  May the grace of God bring unity amongst the various factions of Christianity and may that same grace break the cycle of distrust and aggression between Israel and Palestine.   
Amen

1 comment:

Pi Man said...

Wow... wonderful blog, Bro. I once heard the comment that grace is getting what we don't deserve while mercy is not getting what we do deserve. I think when the reality of that sets in, along with Phil's comments on grace also being God's empowering presence, as well as what you've written here, it gives us reason to pause... and think, and make spirit-filled, measurable change. On earth, as it is in heaven, eh? Great stuff Crispin. Thanks as always. TA