As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.
Pulitzer Prize winning historians Will and Ariel Durant, in their book The Lessons of History, observed that “War is one of the constants of history, and has not diminished with civilization and democracy. In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war.” The 45 years since the Durants made their observation have not added a single year of peace to the scant total. Here is yet another confirmation of the Biblical story of Adam’s fallen race. Tragically our world tends towards disorder and destruction. This is an example of what might be called The Second Law of Spiritual Thermodynamics.
In the physical world The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that every ordered system tends towards disorder if not acted upon by outside energy. We see this tendency towards disorder all around as we live in a world where everything atrophies. This means that your car battery will wear out every few years, not regenerate. Your house will need repainting, count on it. The plumbing will stop up. Your computer will get infected unless you protect it. Your body deteriorates no matter how hard you try to keep it in shape.
What is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world with The Second Law of Spiritual Thermodynamics. We tend towards spiritual disorder and disintegration without intervention from outside the system. Human relations always tend toward disintegration. Marriages and families tend toward disintegration. Churches, communities, and whole civilizations tend toward disintegration, without outside intervention. The poet William Butler Yeats saw this and lamented: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”.
This is where you and I are to play a role! Jesus intends His followers to be that outside intervention in a system tending toward disintegration: “You are the salt of the earth” Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). We are to be peacemakers in a world ever tending toward disorder and disintegration.
In practical terms Jesus says that if we know our brother or sister “has something against” us, we are to go and seek reconciliation with them (Matthew 5:23-24). It also means we have the responsibility to go to our brother or sister if they “sin” against us in order to be reconciled to them (Matthew 18:15-16). Either way, as followers of Jesus the responsibility is on us to take the first step towards making peace. As those who bear the name Christian we bear responsibility to preserve peace where it is (Ephesians 4:3), and to restore peace where it is not (I Corinthians 13:11). God is the “author of peace” (I Corinthians 14:33).
PONDER AND PRAY
“Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”—II Corinthians 13:11
- Do you know of someone who “has something against you”? Jesus says that before you offer your gift on the altar you must go to that person and seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24).
- Is there someone you have something against, and with whom you need to be reconciled? (Matthew 18:16) Whether another has something against you, or you have something against another, you as the peacemaker have the responsibility to initiate peace.
- What do you want to say to God?