In the midst of polarizing election cycle, with almost daily reports of mass shootings and terrorist attacks, and extremists terrorizing the most ancient and sacred lands on earth, it’s hard to discern the presence of peace in our world.
This last couple of weeks really epitomizes where our world is. It began with terror in the streets of Beirut, followed by more in Paris. Then a shooting targeting innocent women looking to get health care in Colorado, and then more against those celebrating the holidays with their co-workers in California. And all the while, irresponsible, opportunistic politicians and religious leaders and talking heads have overwhelmed our televisions and newsfeeds and inboxes with messages of hate and intolerance and fear and calls for war.
The worst of all is that so much of this rhetoric comes from those who claim to follow the One we know as the Prince of Peace. It is disgusting to me, as a Christian, to see that those who are representing our faith to the world are those who can spew forth the most hate and fear and violence to the world.
When a businessman-turned-politician rallies a sizable chunk of this nation by demonzing an innocent group of people, by stoking fears and playing on people’s worst inclinations, then the Way of Jesus, the way of peace has been abandoned.
When the president of the nation’s largest Christian college implores his students to buy death-dealing weapons of war, and talks of “ending” a group of people, the Way of Jesus has been abandoned.
When we find more peace in guns than we do in fellowship with one another, the Way of Jesus has been abandoned.
When we are so scared that we are willing to turn fleeing women and children away and back towards those who they are fleeing from, the Way of Jesus has been abandoned.
When we exercise our “pro-life” bonafides by praising the man who murders innocent women at a health clinic, the Way of Jesus has been abandoned.
When we see the only answer to violence and war as more violence and war, the Way of Jesus has been abandoned
Jesus called us to transform the world, not by the sword, not through the wielding of power, not through fear or by circling the wagons. Jesus called us to transform this world by love, by turning the other cheek, by casting out fear, by opening our arms and our hearts and our borders to those in need. He showed us a way of life that accepts and respects our brothers and sisters, no matter the color of their skin or the religion they adhere or the nation they call home.
Jesus stood for peace. Above all else, he envisioned a world of peace brought about by love and mercy and assurance.
I stand for peace because more violence is not the answer to stopping violence.
I stand for peace because Muslims are my brothers and sisters too.
I stand for peace because I welcome the stranger, the immigrant, and the refugee to our shores.
I stand for peace because love cannot be expressed through exclusion and intolerance.
I stand for peace because safety cannot be found through the barrel of a gun.
I stand for peace because closed walls and closed borders and closed minds only bring death.
I stand for peace because diversity and differences make us stronger.
I stand for peace because all people should have the right to worship how and who they want without fear of hate or violence.
I stand for peace because love drives out all fear, and we are told to “fear not.”
I stand for peace because the Way of Jesus goes no other way.
The Peace Project was started here in Tulsa by members of our great Islamic Society of Tulsa. The goal is to show that those that stand from peace are diverse, and come from all backgrounds and all walks of life. You can become part of the movement by taking a picture telling us who you are and including the hashtag #IStandForPeace.