While I was serving my Muslim brothers in the southern Philippines I was asked to speak in a mosque about my hope for the Bangsamoro (Nation of Muslims) people of the southern Philippines and why following Jesus lead me to hope that this nation submitted to God (this is the definition of Muslim) will find peace and justice. Most Christians are surprised when I tell them that I was asked by muslims to speak about Jesus and scripture in their own mosque. But why? Muslims believe Jesus speaks with authority as a prophet. I was standing of the relationships of trust between muslims and Mennonites that were built for 25 years before my time. Christian’s had been building relationships of trust for years and when the time came we were also able to build relationships of trust and be transparent about our hope and love for the Bangsamoro.
When I started reading the bible through a lens of peace and peace as a central theme I wanted to know that this new foundation was biblical. Was the idea or hope of biblical peace (shalom) really a foundational principal in Jesus ministry, in Paul’s understanding of the Gospel and for the people of Israel in their scriptures (the Old Testament)? Did they believe that God’s goal is that all people experience peace and reconciliation in every relationship? I think yes and here’s why?
These are three keys on the keychain that anchor me in peace as our hope and a foundational description of God’s will.
1. Isaiah 52:7
This passage is the root passage for the apostle Paul when he talks about gospel or good news.
This passage is also the foundation of Jesus’ identity when he announces that He has come to give freedom to captives, give sight to the blind and announce now is the time that God is showing the world his love and favor. It’s rooted here! This passage defines the Old Testament prophet’s perspective of the hope that the world would be made new and what it will be like when people experience it!
It says: people from every nation will experience peace, good news and salvation when they hear the good news of hope! And they experience these things because “out God reigns”, the Kingdom of God is here or in my translation: Jesus is king of creation and he is making everything new again!
When Jesus is king, we experience peace, good news and salvation in every relationship.
2. Mark 1:15
Jesus first recorded announcement of the Gospel says, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
That’s a direct reference to the Isaiah passage! This is an exciting link between the two passages and gives a clear of what the Kingdom is like.
3. Acts 28:30-31
One of the struggles for people to understand peace theology is the difference between Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God and Paul’s message about the gospel of grace. This passage undoes that thinking. This is really a false difference that emerged by proof texting Paul rather than seeing him recontextualizing Jesus’ message for a new, nonJewish, audience.
The last years of Paul’s life were spent in Rome. He was under house arrest for being a subversive political activist who was teaching that Cesar was not the true king of the world, Jesus was the real king. (Like Jesus said to Pilate, no political leader would have any power unless God allowed him to be there.) Teaching Cesar is accountable to God in the capital of the world will often get your head chopped off and That’s what people think happened to Paul. But, the end of Acts says that he spent the last years of his life teaching about the kingdom of God while under house arrest.
Paul’s life ended where Jesus ministry began. The Kingdom of God.
Why does this matter?
Today we at PeaceChurch Philippines continue to work for peace and reconciliation between Christians, Muslims and the first nations people of the Philippines in different ways. We responding to disasters by supporting marginalized people who get less help than others, we train military leaders in peacebuilding and human rights through partner organizations and challenge the larger church of the Philippines the largest organization in the country, to love their neighbor and seek peace and justice with them as our King Jesus taught us.
Peace is not just a 60’s hippy idea, or an individualistic new age feeling. Peacebuilding has a tangible output – healed relationships and experienced justice in all sectors of society. God is bringing this about and that is why the church can be a community of hope in this world. Join us @PeaceChurch Philippines, as we become a community of hope together every Wed night. Or if your somewhere else in the world, sign up for my email updates on the right and keep up with what we’re doing.