It’s in times like this that pastors lead their churches in praying for peace. As a Jesus-pacifist myself, I get it—and I, too, have preached and written similar things in the past. But today I feel my understanding of peace has grown. And while I still pray and hope for peace, I have realized that true peace is not an attempt to tell everyone to brush their differences under the rug and keep it to themselves.
Justice issues like the abuse of black lives and the endorsement of white privilege cannot simply be told to calm down, because such abuse and endorsement is sin and must therefore be repented of. It must not be calmed down, but cast out of our lives completely; for we follow a God that time and time again calls us to repent of the injustices we commit. Praying for a fake quiet peace on issues such as these is not repentance, it’s just giving us the space to keep injustice in the privacy of our hearts until it is eventually lived out through our words and actions.
Staying quiet about Trump’s many continued injustices and unrepentant heart so that others won’t be mad at us is not peace. The world is suffering and Trump has amplified it. And if we can’t tell people that Christian Nationalism is not only unbiblical, but heretical; and that QAnon conspiracy theories are lies that must be denied outright; and that what happened on the 6th was wrong; then we are not sharing the gospel, but something else. Sure, delivering such messages may need to be handled with a certain amount of care in order to help others understand, but ignoring such issues for the sake of a false peace is not the answer.
As Christians, the gospel teaches us that Jesus is King of our lives in a country in which we already live called Heaven, which is coming to earth right now when we give ourselves over to God’s ways of both justice and mercy. Therefore, when we live out injustice and un-mercy and call earthly kingdoms “Heaven” and earthly leaders “Jesus,” we are living out an ungospel. When Christians ignore the oppressed and endorse power, we ignore the prophets at best and kill them at worst—even if we oppress and endorse quietly.
Silencing such issues in attempts to be at peace is not peace—it is enabling. We must be willing to be hated for the sake of the Gospel—even if it’s our own who hate us, just as Jesus’ own hated him.
In times like this, Jesus calls us to join Him in His own mission statement:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”-Luke 4:18-19