Psalm 120, Mark 13:9-13, 2 Peter 1:20-2:9
Psalm 120 is a lament. The psalmist is among those who live a life of lies. These same people are warmongers, seeking strife and conflict. The psalmist is living in foreign lands that seek no peace, but the cry of the psalmist’s heart is for peace. The psalm begins with the end. God answered him, the rest of the psalm is about what the problem was. The truth is that while the psalmist was referring to a specific people, we all know the type. There are those that do not seem happy unless there is conflict. There are those who do not trust peace. When one does not have peace, one resorts to force fairly quickly. We are all guilty of this to some degree. Sometimes the response is yelling, crying, ambivalence, disregard. These all are violent to the heart and soul of others, and often to ourselves. We quickly think that all violence is physical. The truth is that violence is the outward sign of an inward pain.
Jesus’ words in Mark are certainly not comforting. They can be terrifying. The internal strife of families torn apart. Neighbors calling out neighbors. Remember the Second Great Commandment? Love your neighbor as yourself. This is the outward sign of it not being so. Jesus is warning that his peace is not the peace of this world. All too often, the peace of this world is bought and paid for by blood and death. The peace of God is not so. The psalmist understood this. The response of the psalmist to those around him was, “God save me!” It wasn’t a slap to the face, or something more. It was prayer. As Jesus continues, he refers to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the source of the peace of God. When the Holy Spirit resides in us, we can respond to those around us with a grace and wisdom that is not ours.
The God-ly wisdom of the Holy Spirit requires our humility. Peter has to confront people already who say that they have a new revelation from God. Peter is quick to point out that the prophets themselves did not understand their prophecies (unless granted so by God). It was only after the fact that it was proven that their prophecies were true. This is an important thing as the church, and groups that masquerade as the church, often have those that call themselves prophets or revealers or divine actors of some sort that are bringing a new truth from God. Often these new truths are then used in ways that are violent to the hearts and souls of the innocent (and even not-so innocent). These people use the power of media, guilt, society, anything at all to crush the hearts of the people of God. We too can be guilty of using God in this same way. God’s ways are the ways of peace. God’s ways are the ways that sooth and heal.
1) Has some “religious” person ever said something to you that was hurtful? How did that make you feel toward the religious they claimed to follow?
2) Often (and rightly) people are told that if they are abandoning religion because of people, then they are looking at the people not God. What does that mean, then, when we also say, “we may be the only Jesus they every see?”
3/FD) Being a peace-lover or peace-maker does not mean being a pushover. How does one make peace without violence?