FAQ 3: Why Should We Bother With Peacemaking?
Today we're continuing our blog series addressing some of our most frequently asked questions. If you missed them, see our previous posts addressing the questions Is it Really Possible to Have Peace Between Christians and Muslims? and How Does Peacemaking Relate to Evangelism? Otherwise, on to today's question...
Frequently Asked Question #3:
Doesn’t the Bible teach that evil and violence will only increase in the world? So why should we even bother with peacemaking?
We often hear statements like this: “You shouldn’t work for peace, because the Bible teaches that there will never truly be peace on this earth (particularly in the Middle East). What you are trying to do is futile according to Scripture. The Bible teaches that the end times will be an age of horrendous persecution and spiritual darkness. So your efforts are useless!”
Yes, the Bible is full of statements about future darkness and persecution. It makes important predictions about the end times. The books of Daniel and Revelation reveal the future return of Christ in rich symbolism and mind-boggling imagery.
Some pastors and teachers weave together complex prophetic schemes about the end times. They give the impression that they understand all the details, and many believe that their interpretation describes what is going on in our world today. They tend to make these prophetic interpretations, rather than the hope of Christ’s return, central to our faith.
But these “end times experts” often break the basic rules of biblical interpretation. We are supposed to interpret the unclear texts in light of the clear texts. John Wimber (the founder of the Vineyard Association of Churches) used to say, "The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things."
And here is what is plain about the teaching of the book of Revelation: God wins! That much is crystal clear. What is not clear are the details of how or when it will happen. We need to show a little humility when it comes to the details of the end times.
In fact, an over-emphasis on the end times can actually hurt our discipleship. This doomsday message about the future paralyzes present engagement with a broken world. It produces a siege mentality and an attitude of hostility. It leads to fear and becomes an excuse not to obey Jesus in the present.
Moses had some important insight for us: "The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that He has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NLT).
We are accountable for what God has clearly revealed to us. So let’s stop speculating about the end times and start obeying what Jesus calls us to do right now: love our neighbors, pursue peace, and make disciples.
Peacemakers are not always peace-achievers. But our efforts are not useless. In fact, one of the purposes of end times teaching is to give hope and encourage people to persevere in good deeds - like peacemaking!