Are we willing to be content with the peace that Christ gives us, or must we still insist on building our own spiritual façades, unstable houses of cards which can be toppled by the slightest gentle breeze? It seems that every election year in the United States (and, I would assume, many other democratic countries), we latch onto this faulty notion that if we elect all the “right” people (which is to say, primarily Christians), and pass all the “right” laws (those which we believe to have a Biblical basis), then we will inch ever closer to an “ideal” society (whatever “ideal” means), maybe one in which we would be happy to live for the rest of our lives until the next election. Or until the next meeting at city hall. Or until the fall campaign for PTA president. Or until the next election for the judge who slapped us with heavy fines for our continued flouting of traffic laws (laws which we would not have exist in a perfect society). And the list goes on.
It is not a bad thing to seek contentment and happiness in our own little corners of society. Quite to the contrary, nobody wants conflict and hostility, conditions which are contrary to having a society in the first place. But the analogy of “heaven on earth” only goes so far before those who are keeping the “peace” die and are replaced by other mortal humans who will also die eventually, and so on. But the bigger problem is not that of who will tend the shop and keep business running, so to speak. The problem is that we assume we can create an ideal society in a life which will not be ideal until this life is over.
Two facts to consider: one, nobody will live this life on Earth forever in our present state of existence, and two, we weren’t meant to focus so intently on this life to the exclusion of eternity. Certainly everyone wants a society in which they can find happiness in their work, their play, their family and friends, and find a sense of serenity amid the daily grind of living. But eventually each of us will die, and not only can’t we take with us the possessions we acquire, but we also can’t take with us the social and legal conditions which we may have even helped to create. I’m sure that at least a few people in eternity right now wish that they could be under the jurisdiction of old zoning laws.
So if the conditions which we humans create are subject to change as people die and others are born (only to themselves grow up, change the way things are and then also die), why do so many of us become so defensive, stubborn and vindictive toward those with opposite and equally entrenched opinions on the way things should be? God is not a Republican, Democrat or any other party affiliation and doesn’t have to be because since He is God, He is perfectly content with Himself and in Himself. Why, then, aren’t we doing what He is doing, seeking our contentment in Him? (This is not a multiple-choice question for us to vote on the options.)
It’s funny how we attach God’s sanction to specific laws or types of laws. Although it is a good thing that most of us do not murder (which would thus break one of God’s commandments and a number of criminal statutes in most countries), God is not limited to any specific laws or actions because He is perfect and His perfection is self-existent and not bound by any laws or actions. He doesn’t have to do anything to be perfect or to be content. But as far as our own striving for a socio-political utopia, we can’t legislate peace and have a hard enough time bringing about a lack of conflict. Then again, anyone can either ignore or violate existing laws, and by doing so disrupt the lack of conflict. Where, then, is peace to be found? It has to be written on our hearts, or we will never find it.
It ultimately doesn’t matter who our president or congressmen or senators or mayors or other leaders are in the larger scheme of finding peace. Leaders are necessary. But leaders are only tools. Laws are only tools. Social conditions are only tools, tools for allowing us to live our lives in whatever situation we find ourselves in whatever manner we desire and are able. Those tools are not ends in themselves, nor do the conditions of our lives mean anything at all if we live isolated from an eternal perspective. It doesn’t matter that much what happens to us in this world, what conditions we find ourselves in, because not only are our lives in this world not permanent (nor can we guarantee ourselves even one more heartbeat), if we belong to Christ, we don’t belong to this world anyway. Why do we want to bind ourselves in conditions which won’t last and which don’t pertain to our identity in Christ? Whatever situations we find ourselves in, if we belong to Christ we can trust that He is putting us in such situations to help us grow spiritually, to allow us to minister to others, or to simply enjoy being a child of His and to rejoice in His love. Any situation in which we find ourselves then becomes a springboard for what Christ is preparing for us next. Then Christ will lead us into the next situation in which we can learn to love and trust Him more, and show others the love of Christ so that they also may learn who He is and love Him as well.
Do the situations we find ourselves in matter? Of course they do. Is our peace bound by such situations? To put it another way, will we worship Jesus even amid chaos? If the peace we want is something we can’t create in lives which we can’t ultimately control, remember that our lives are not about us in the first place. We claim to believe God created us so that He could then transform us and give us hope. No matter what happens to us as we take the good news about Him to those without hope, the same hope which we take to others can also be our peace no matter what our circumstances. Whether we are living in the most outwardly stable society in the world or are trapped in chaos beyond comprehension, Christ wants us to find in Him the only peace which cannot be destroyed.
Christ is not limited by the constraints of human understanding or human initiative. Quite to the contrary, if He is who we say we believe He is, then our own efforts to comprehend Him and what He can do fall far short of the magnitude of His reality. If, then, we insist that human institutions and human laws are the most effective means by which to change this world for Christ, we must’ve totally forgotten that we asked for His help in the first place.