On Monday, November 28, we read the brutal story of an eighteen year old college student who used his car and his knife to wreak havoc on the campus of Ohio State University. We don't know why this student chose to spend his Monday after Thanksgiving in this way. We don't know why he chose to seek to kill those students, teachers, and policemen. All we know is that he acted, and that his action is not alone.
He is now part of a statistic. A statistic which relates a story of school shootings, police killings, riots, and senseless murder. Week after week, for the past multiple years, with increasing frequency, our eyes have been bombarded with the stories of these atrocities. Many of us are confused. Some are angry. All are saddened by the wanton misuse of human life. We do not understand how someone could willingly do these things. These emotions often bring hopelessness.
When looking at the world, an observer might deduce that violence is getting more and more prevalent. Is this really true? I don't know. The author of Ecclesiastes wrote, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." The methods have changed over time as humanity moved from clubs, to swords, to arrows, to guns, to explosives, to whatever the next generation will invent. With the spread of information, we know more about each event that happens around the world, than any other generation knew. Is violence more prevalent, or do we just know more that is happening? I don't know.
What I do know is that violence, hatred, pain, anger, and hopelessness have been staples in humanity's existence since Adam and Eve left the garden. The perfection that was at the beginning was lost when sin entered the world. Relationships were broken. Miscommunications abounded. Jealousy grew. The broken emotions festered, and then boiled over as Cain committed the first murder, showing that humanity had the ability to take the life that God graciously had made. This is seen as the depth of man's depravity. That first murder was joined by a second and a third, and innumerable more. Because of broken relationships, humanity does not have the ability in themselves to break this cycle, to live in peace.
We seek peace, but that peace is no where to be found, because we seek it in the wrong places. We look to each other, hoping that some man or woman could teach us how better to live. Unfortunately, no teaching of humanity can change who we are or our brokenness. We look to someone or something to give peace to our situation, but there is no peace to be had. Before we can have peace in our world, we need peace in our hearts. Only one person can change us.
True peace is found in Christ. Israel sought a savior that would bring peace to their situation. They lived in the middle of violence and riots, under an oppressive, racist government that cared more about lining its pockets than actually helping the poor and weak. In the middle of this chaos, Christ came as the one who would usher in a new regime, one of love, care, and equality. One of peace. But he ushered in this regime by dying. And, before he died, he promised that we wouldn't have peace on this earth.
How does Christ bring peace?
Where is this peace?
As Christ was at the Last Supper, he said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." While we live on this earth, we will be surrounded by trouble, because humanity is still suffering from sin and broken relationships. We have hope though. Christ promised that He has overcome the world, and one day that promise will be realized. He will come again and bring justice to those who have not followed Him. And, He will bring an eternity of peace to those who have trusted in Him.
Though we will keep getting more reports of violence, and though it feels like the world is spinning out of control, one day, in the Day of the Lord, we will finally have peace. This gives us hope in the midst of pain around us.