Peace, A Path To Walk Upon
Christ Is Peace, Making Him Our Peace Is A Choice
by Eric Elkin
The most interesting encounters often happen in unlikely places. My most recent one occurred in a Skechers shoe store in Eagan, MN. I went to the store in hopes of making a quick exchange of a wrong pair of shoes purchased online. There were only two other people in the store, and they were shopping together. I knew this wouldn’t take long and I could be on my way.
When the two other women shopping got to the counter first, I thought no big deal. Then I realized they were buying 20 pairs of shoes. I wished I had pressed forward a little faster.
The cashier at the store was a young woman, perhaps still in high school. She looked at the two Asian women and asked, “Are you from around here?” The question made the younger of the two Asian women tense. After catching her breath, as if to calm herself, she replied, “Yes, I am, but my aunt is visiting from Vietnam.”
The facial expression of the young cashier revealed a delight that she found a connection with the two customers. She smiled and said, “Oh, I just read all about the Vietnam War in school. Boy, that was kind of bad, wasn’t it?” She continued a completely innocent and naive assessment of the war oblivious to the impact her comments could have on the two women.
Thankfully, the aunt from Vietnam did not speak English. The niece, who could, did everything in her power not to respond to the conversation and change the subject. I stood by in stunned silence, praying for divine intervention to cease the cashier from continuing to speak.
The cashier did not mean to be rude or offensive. She was utterly naive to one of the deepest wounds in both US and Vietnamese history. The conversation reminded me of how quickly we forget the tragic impact of war. This young child, one generation removed from the war, had no clue about its profound and painful impact on two countries.
Interestingly, many young people in Vietnam are equally naive. A young Vietnamese woman interviewed by The Atlantic for an article on the 40th Anniversary of the war reflected the same attitude of the cashier. She said, “Most young people nowadays don’t really care about what happened. They just want to have fun.”
Reflecting on the incident, I realized, human beings have a behavioral cycle that defies any religious identity or political ideology. We can only live in harmony for so long. When we get tired of peace, we will start to drum up hatred as if to break our boredom. The first step is to establish an imminent threat. Then we attach a people and a face to the danger. Next leaders start to criticize the passive tactics of those interested in peace as another threat to our safety. Before too long, we are off on another war tangent.
When I first read this passage from Ephesians, I just rolled my eyes. In my head, I heard myself saying if Christ is our peace and the one who breaks down barriers, why does he seem to be at the center of so many conflicts?
Then I realized a couple of things about my experiences with peace and hatred. Christ is often the pawn used to justify human hatred. It is humans, not Jesus, who care about Jew and Gentile. Our desire to maintain these divisions never seems to go away.
Christ is peace. But we need to desire peace for Christ to be our peace. The path of peace is an invitation open for all to walk. It is a path God will not force you to walk upon, but when you do, peace will reign in our heart, mind, and soul. Today, I invite you to walk the path of peace.
Click to read Ephesians 2: 11-22
How do you relate to people who are different from you?
What is the biggest threat to peace? Is it really a threat or just hype?
How can you choose to walk in peace? And, what impact can it have on others?
When has Christ been your peace?