I hear, again, you’ve been talking about “peace,” that the word closes your letters and that you say it warmly with an exhortative knowing smile whenever your conversations or gatherings conclude. I hear you’ve been taking about “social justice,” and that you wince and lead prayers whenever some new great injustice has been committed in the world, committed by the powerful against some poor, helpless group. I hear you’re still preaching to your listeners that the proper Christian life is one which promotes “peace” instead of “war” and “social justice” instead of the abuse of power.
I suppose all of these are good. I can’t argue with them.
But, I have begun to think that peace and justice are, for you, all about presidents and congressmen, nations and civilizations, policies and laws. I think the only wrongs you see are those done by the great big powerful people and systems—and this is why you encourage us to sign official petitions, write to our congressmen, and march in protests. You see peace and justice only in terms of power. Peace must be infused with power if it’s really going to “work.” We’ve got to be strong if we’re going to defeat the powers in the name of justice.
Nevermind that this is the same rationale the powers use to wage their wars and commit their atrocities.
Yet, with all this talk of peace and justice, you do not talk to the people around you well. You talk over them. You interrupt them. I’ve seen you use them and manipulate them. You have no patience for them. They are not sheep in your eyes, but obstinate mules testing your patience by resisting your efforts to build and support the powerful solutions which you think will bring peace and justice to the world. So, you rail against them and get angry. You push them out of the way. I have seen you shout at them, lie to them, and hate them—justifying it as “peace.”
Oh, and others. I have seen others who occupy positions of authority in “institutions,” who post articles about justice and peace and mercy, who teach lessons and read books about these things. But, ultimately, their boss decides what is just and unjust, and they go right along. And I have watched the ones deemed “champions of peace and justice” quietly fade into the background while the boss climbs over people and hurts people and uses them up to seek his ends. The champions will not speak up; they will not share that cross. They tell themselves, “See, if I get fired, I won’t be here any longer to do justice.” So, they sit quietly and approvingly while violence is done to their neighbor. They put up with and, by defending it, commit injustice—in order to do justice. They do evil for the sake of good. “Better that one person should die for everyone than that we all should die.”
It is because, sir, like you, their love for “peace” and “social justice” is about issues, not people. It is about power and control, not truth. They, like you, do not understand the words of Micah: that what is required of God’s people is not big acts of power but “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” This, of course, takes one inevitably to the cross: the ultimate injustice. And you…you have decided you won’t end up there. No, you put your neighbors on it. You put your friends on it, your brothers and sisters, church members, coworkers…your children.
All because you still do not believe that Jesus’ peace is one which bears a cross. You still agree with the powers. You still don’t know the story. You don’t know what peace is because you agree with the crucifiers and not the crucified. You believe in the powers and not the cross. You have convinced yourself that God’s way of doing peace is not good enough. If only he had asked you. You are opposed to God, against him. And, because of that, you are lost. I feel sorry for you.
You may still be standing now. You may rack up your accomplishments and even “succeed.” But you will never, ever do peace.
God forgive you.