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Practicing a Fashionable Peace

Well, it took ten years, but Osama Bin Laden is dead.

After ten years, who knows how many people have actually died, starting with about three-thousand on 9/11 and then countless others in the wars since then.

So what did we do when we heard the news? Some celebrated in the streets. Some cried. Some felt closure from the events of 9/11. Some felt like our service men and women have not died or were injured in vain. Some called for peace. And in some places, people are angry, so angry they are plotting their revenge.

There have been Christian responses too. Some rejoicing (publicly and secretly) and others renewing calls for peace. As the reactions began appearing on Facebook and Twitter, my feeds were definitely filling up with the latter. Scripture quotes, quotes from MLK, Gandhi, and all the usual peace activists. Many asking the question, “how can we rejoice over the death of a human being?” If we are wondering why people are rejoicing over the death of Bin Laden then, well, I guess I don’t know what to tell you. Of course, we completely understand why people were celebrating.

I guess what disturbs me most is that we like to promote peace when it will make us look the best, the coolest, the most fashionable among our other peace loving friends and colleagues. Yet the truth is, deep down we hate peace. We hate that Jesus calls us to love our enemies, we hate the warnings of the prophets that there will be consequences when we worship and celebrate death and violence. We hate peace because we don’t actually do anything to bring a deep and everlasting peace to the world. Sure, we may write some thoughtful blog posts and even take to the streets to march with signs and chants, but then we will return to the comforts of our homes, make a nice dinner, and enjoy some Netflix before crawling into our comfortable beds and getting a good night’s sleep.

Some of us may engage in some thoughtful conversation or maybe even an argument with our co-workers, family members, friends, and neighbors about war and violence then we will go to the mall or maybe to the movie theatre, or maybe on a nice hike or perhaps we will tend to our organic gardens, grab a cup of fair-trade coffee and maybe even order a new pair of TOMS on our Macbook Pro’s connected to high-speed internet.

War and violence are the biggest sins we can ever commit, they are in my opinion the biggest affronts to loving God and our neighbor. War and violence are our biggest addictions and they are nearly impossible to overcome. When it comes to solving problems they are easier than peace. If peace was easier and more profitable, we would practice it all time.

I love peace and I love Jesus. I love peace because of Jesus. Christianity is hard because Jesus actually tells us to pick up our crosses and to lay our lives down for others. For Christians, our lord and savior actually requires us to die a painful death before ever participating in violence. How crazy is that? It’s so crazy that we have utterly and epically failed to actually carry forth the movement that Jesus started. What we participate in now is a faith of convenience. A faith that conveniently allows us to post timely, thoughtful, and poignant reflections on peace when it is convenient for us. Some of us may even be so bold to say something on Sunday morning and indeed some folks may walk out of our churches and never come back. We may be upset, however, deep down we will feel good that we stood up for something and we will brag, like it’s a competition, to our colleagues about how many people we offended.

And so, we will post our status updates, we will tweet and re-tweet, and we will blog. I wrote this blog post and now I am going to go back to work and then, when it is time, I will have lunch.

About the author: Rob is the co-founder and current co-pastor of City Square Church, a new and innovative United Methodist faith community in downtown Phoenix. In his years of experience in spiritual formation and creating active and engaged communities, Rob has become an expert at connection and networking. He now uses these experiences, along with technology and social media, to bring others together around creative ideas and events that aim to inspire innovation and bold leadership.

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