Friday 11 September 2009

‘Peace, Peace’, Where There is No Peace?

[I contributed today’s ‘Connecting with Culture’, a weekly email service provided by London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.]

A generation of people know where they were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I missed that by (ahem) a few years, but I belong to those who will forever remember where they were when they heard the news of the hijacked planes being flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., eight years ago today.

How do you remember it?

Maybe your recollections will be coloured by the convictions earlier this week of Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Ali Sarwar, and Tanvir Hussain, who were found guilty of a plot to use liquid bombs to blow up transatlantic airliners.

Maybe you’re still wondering about the whys and wherefores of the recent release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

In all this, Christians are not immune from questions about balancing justice with compassion, or from the shock and sense of outrage that comes with attacks on a nation’s territorial integrity, or from the feelings of fear that might arise as a result.

As always, though, our engagement with these issues is rooted in a life of discipleship nurtured by relationship with Christ and reflection on Scripture. Our faith is defined by gospel interests before it is defined by geopolitical interests.

What we know of God assures us that nothing falls outside his providential rule. What we know of sin reminds us that ‘wars and rumours of wars’ will be a mark of the present age, one of the many consequences of our rebellion against God and our alienation from each other, and that we are on shaky ground when we divide the world into ‘evil’ people and ‘good’ people without recognising that the axis of evil runs through each of our hearts. What we know of redemption tells us that far from abandoning the world, God has loved it so much and given his Son for it.

Christians of all people, then, are ideally placed to understand the reality and seriousness of evil, telling the story of the God who will one day still the forces of chaos and make all things new. The gospel of God – as revealed in Scripture and testified to by the Church – shapes our engagement and gives the resources to respond, offering peace and hope to a confused and hurting world.


For further reflection on this topic, see Nick Solly Megoran, The War on Terror: How Should Christians Respond? (Nottingham: IVP, 2007). Check out the publisher’s page here and the author’s homepage here.

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