Peace, Peacemaking, and War

What does the ELCA Teach About… Peace?

The ELCA social statement titled “For Peace in God’s World” explores the intersection of the Peace of God and how we work for peace in our world.  One of the greetings the risen Christ shared with his disciples was a message of peace (When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” -John 20:19) Many of the New Testament letters bring with them a message of peace (Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -1 Cor. 1:3) and we have a time in our worship service of sharing the peace as well as exchange greetings of peace.  Our Affirmation of Baptism includes a promise to “strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”  But what does it mean to live a life of peace in a world so often torn apart by violence, war, and discord?

The social statement makes a number of key points.  You can read the entire statement on the ELCA Webpage  Here are some of the primary points made in the social statement.

  1. The Triune God we worship is a God of Peace.  We are called as those who worship this God of Peace to promote and encourage peace and peacemaking however we can.
  2. Scripture often describes God as favoring various factions in war or battle.  This is especially common in parts of Old Testament scripture.  This should not be interpreted as God endorsing violence.
  3. The existence of the military points to the reality that our world is broken and sinful.  All war is the result of sin (whether that be the sins of injustice, greed, hatred, etc.).  It should be the ultimate hope and prayer of every Christian that all war cease.  Armed conflict should be a last resort after all other options have been exhausted.  It is appropriate for us to pray for the safety of members of the military and for our denomination to equip military chaplains.

Every member is called to live out these ideals in our daily life.  Some of the ways that we can do this are:

  1. Support and advocate for (as the Holy Spirit gives each the ability) a world where peace can be found.
  2. Promote and foster peace between ourselves – family, friends, neighbors, and strangers.  Peace is something that extends from Christ and we then take it into the world.  The Holy Spirit gives each of us gifts to support peace: within ourselves, in our households, workplaces, congregations, families, and communities.  Our efforts – while unable to bring about world peace on their own – have an effect that can ripple out beyond our knowing.
  3. Support and encourage the work of governments and organizations who provide for those fleeing war-torn areas.
  4. Pray diligently, fervently, and with hope.  Pray that God’s peace reaches those who need it. Pray for peacekeepers and ambassadors in all places.

God’s Peace has been given to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  As the people of God, we now have the opportunity and privilege to offer that same peace to those around us.  Peace be with you, dear beloved children of God.

~Pr Sharilyn