In September one of the NBA’s best defenders, Ron Artest, legally changed his name to Metta World Peace. Why? World Peace said, “Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world.” One small (albeit bizarre) step toward a commendable goal. Artest’s name change brings up a perennial issue for college students: lasting world peace. In college I spent several years so disgusted by war that I decided to become a pacifist (though I’ve changed my views since then). Yet, I think the heart of many anti-war protestors, and conscientious objectors is good. Human life is so valuable that we must do everything in our power to protect it. Therefore, world peace is a great goal. But how do we get there?
Well, some people change their name and others protest, but this does very little to stop unsensible killing. For instance, no matter how much Americans protested former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi it meant nothing until resources and military force were employed to stop him. No matter how much Americans protest terrorism, it took military action – more death – to ensure the safety of our country.
We live in such a depraved world that often the only way to stop insensible violence is with violence. Protesting simply has limited power apart from military action. Moreover, protesting war itself is naive solution – the only way to save the Jews imprisoned in death camps was by military action. War brought peace for Auschwitz.
I hope you see my point: protesting cannot bring peace, just war cannot bring peace, in fact it seems like humans are entirely unable to bring about any lasting world peace. Why? We’ve misunderstood the source of peace. We are like men trying to find apples on an orange tree. We’re looking for the right thing in all the wrong places.
The prophet Isaiah helps illuminate our error, “the effect of righteousness will be peace” (32:17). Peace is the fruit of only one tree – not just war, not protesting, but the tree of righteousness. Isaiah later explains why there is not peace – because mankind is not righteous. He writes that,
Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. (59:7-8)
Because mankind runs to evil, thinks evil thoughts, speaks evil lies, and acts out evil deeds there is no peace. Blood is spilled and justice is spoiled. Isaiah makes it clear that the only way to peace is righteousness. Yet, no one knows the path – no one except the Messiah, who makes a new way,
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
Jesus Christ was the only man to live a righteous life. Yet, he died a sinner’s death, so that we who once tread the crooked road might step onto the highway of holiness. By his blood we are made perfectly righteous, so that we can be reconciled to God, know peace with our creator.
Christ did not come to merely put an end to death and destruction, he came to bring a fuller, truer peace which no protestor can imagine. He came to bring peace between God and man. Peace between man and man. Man and himself. He came to restore all creation, make everything new again. Isaiah gives us a beautiful image of the lasting peace which the righteousness of Christ alone can bring,
For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD,
and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD. (65:17-25)
There will not be true, lasting peace this side of heaven – though we ought to work for righteous peace in all places. Nonetheless, true eternal peace treads the path of his return – he is Jesus. Come quickly Lord.