Or... Pax Christi? A simple question I have for today: what kind of peace are you looking for? Back in Jesus' day there were two worlds. The Roman world, and everything outside of the Roman world. The story in the Bible is that Jewish people struggled under the tyranny of many oppressors: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Rome. But Monty Python has another perspective:
The genius behind this of course is that there are obvious perks to having Rome come in :) Pax Romana - or, Roman peace, existed within that world (and everywhere Rome conquered) and outside was chaos, death, despair...
Give yourself to Rome and you get a Colosseum, aqueducts, security, and "peace" - surely there isn't anything wrong with this? But there was a trade off. The Romans would brutally maintain order. They could tax your face off. They could draft your children. They could do whatever they want. They are, Rome, after all. Rome maintained order by military force.
Within Israel/Palestine arose a Jewish sect that followed this guy named Jesus. Rather than trusting in the "pax romana" they trusted in the "pax christi" - this community, who started being called Christians in Antioch, weren't really anti-Roman... not by their standards at least. They were so pro-Jesus and that superseded any earthly allegiances. They also weren't anti-Jewish, by the way. It went beyond political or religious law. The early Church knew a peace that passed understanding. It was a peace people would die for (as opposed to kill for).
The peace that Christ gives isn't like the world's peace. The world understands a peace that, paradoxically, needs war. Rome must conquer. And only through violently overtaking and forcing peace upon the heathens can the world know peace. As they say, to the victor goes the spoils.* But Christ's peace? This isn't some Ben Harper hippie concept where "I'm okay, you're okay" and there isn't any conflict. Christian peace is propagated by showing the world that Christ's response to all the pain, suffering, violence, division, and... well.. chaos - Christ's response is love. Through showing the right way to do things (and going to Jerusalem to do it) Christ shows us what true life really is. Christ's peace is active and moving and alive - but built on another strength than military might.
Jesus shows us a way to live where peace is not offered by whoever is "strongest" but where peace is offered in allegiance to a loving God. Israel is to be a nation set aside - a nation blessed to be a blessing. A nation to show other nations who tire of war and pain how to live righteously.
Rome had Pax Romana and Ceasar to give it. Christians have Pax Christi and Jesus to give it.
Okay... so if you followed Ceasar you got roads, aqueducts,sanitation, security, and all the wonderful comforts of civilization?
If you follow Christ you get... what... persecution? death on a cross? How exciting. Beneath that is something much more wonderful. True freedom. True life. True love. Follow Christ and you receive life everlasting. The Kingdom of God is within grasp - it can be ours.
Now, my friend, we live in an era that doesn't know Pax Romana, but perhaps Pax Americana?
If you had to choose... between Pax Christi and Pax Americana... which would you choose? What kind of peace do you want? We are on our way to Jerusalem to learn a new peace. One that can save this world.
* - coined by an American, by the way.