Got Peace? by Kristyn Komarnicki As Madonna and her underclad cohorts sent out the last vibration of sensory overload at the SuperBowl halftime show last month, the words “World Peace” were projected onto the football field in white lights. I barely stifled a sarcastic snort. World peace? You gotta be kidding me. What do vapid lyrics, crotch-thrusting, and Pharoahesque selfworship (“Y-O-U wanna L-U-V Madonna”) have to do with world peace? Well, maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe it’s not, in fact, an attempt on Madonna’s part to disguise idolatry in the garb of social justice. Maybe the pop star has a genuine yearning for world peace. Who doesn’t? And why shouldn’t we? It’s big and vague and impossible enough to safely join that cheerleading team. It’s a slogan that requires nothing of us because it numbs rather than inspires the imagination. I like to think that I believe in—and even on occasion work toward—peace on a more humble scale. When I moved into my urban neighborhood 13 years ago, I was full of hope and had some pretty nifty plans for reconciliation. But that was before bricks crashed through my window twice in less than two years, both of them narrowly missing my youngest child while surrounding him with shards of glass the size of pizza slices. That was before seeing a woman being beaten by a man in front of our house and discovering not only that none of my neighbors came out to help stop it but that even the cops took a full 10 minutes to make their way over. I’m no Bruce Lee, but I went out myself and ended up taking a few blows and adding my own screams to the night air. (Forgive me, family and friends: I solemnly swear never to try to stop a fight again...) That was before I figured out that while every parent on my block was happy for me to have their kid over (free babysitting is always welcome), none of those parents were interested in getting to know me themselves. After that, I began to wonder if I really did want to make peace with my neighbors. Peace is tedious and trying work, and I’m not as tough as I like to think I am. Building peace is hard enough under my own roof. We’ve got lots of love in my house— it’s like water, unquestioned and available 24 hours a day—but peace is a premium that we seem able to afford only occasionally. With two teenagers, a crosscultural marriage (we still don’t always understand each other’s accents), and the regular familial, financial, and educational challenges of middle class life, peace is more like Dom Perignon—rarely on the table. To be honest, most days I’d settle for peace in my own heart, a labyrinthine place full of dark, hidden corners and more devilish dust bunnies than my bedroom floor.
But I digress. What I really want to talk about here is peace in Palestine. It’s a small area, less than 2,500 square miles, just over two-and-a-half million people. Compared to world peace, this should be doable, right? Whether or not it is “doable,” there are folks in Palestine, Israel, and around the world who, at this very moment, are in fact doing it—working steadily, selflessly, and faith-fully to make peace a reality in that place. Those are the stories we’re telling in the March/ April 2012 issue of PRISM. These people know firsthand things about peace and about our Savior that I can only sense on a conceptual level, having not yet been forced to live them. They understand what’s at stake in Christ’s command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44). They know why Jesus sweats drops of blood as he prepares for the ultimate act of reconciliation (Rom. 5:10). They get how Christ’s death and resurrection are not only the commissioning orders but also the job description for the ministry of reconciliation that he has bequeathed us (2 Cor. 5:18). Jesus has a lot to say about peace, and none of it is the kind of thing you’d hear from a celebrity peacenik wearing a patent leather daisy chain. He is hardcore, sharpedged, and controversial, and his “both/and” messages have that aggravating ring of authenticity. One minute he’s saying, “Peace I leave with you...Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). The next minute he’s warning, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). On Monday he’s blessing the peacemakers and calling them children of God (Matt. 5:9); on Thursday he’s telling his friends that if folks aren’t deserving, “let your peace return to you” (Matt. 10:13). Nothing real chill or popular about that. The peace work of Jesus is daunting, situationally sensitive, requiring creativity and stamina and, yes, sometimes even bloody drops of sweat. That kind of peace is too big to fit on a football field or squeeze into a halftime show. You can keep your world peace, Madonna. I’m putting my money on Jesus. Kristyn Komarnicki is a sporadic and easily discouraged peacemaker who, since hearing the inspirational adage “Only those who see the invisible can attempt the impossible,” has been trying to keep her eyes on the invisible. This is just as hard as it sounds, but since Jesus has been so incredibly faithful to her, she knows he’s there even when she can’t see him.