“The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion will feed together, and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6, Common English Bible)
We can all remember where we were when we heard about the terrorist attacks on 9/11. For me, I was walking across campus at Randolph-Macon College. I had an early class that morning and was headed to the library. As I walked, I overheard other students talking about the attack.
I couldn’t believe it. And truthfully there was a part of me that didn’t believe it. I by-passed the library and went to my car. I turned the radio on and listened with a heavy heart to the news reports of airplanes flying into the World Trade Center buildings.
How could such a thing happen? How could there be so much hate in the world that hundreds of people would be killed?
There is now a generation of young adults who were in the first grade on 9/11. The only world they know is this post-9/11 world. A world where war is common. And no matter what side of the aisle you are, this is a world where politics are more important than people. It is a world where bullying and school shootings are the norm.
A world filled with violence.
In her book God’s Gift of Love, Donna Schaper writes, “From a world without love and without hope, nothing is possible, expect a repeat of the same injuries.” Injustice breeds injustice. Violence breeds violence.
At some point the cycle of hate must stop. But how?
Nelson Mandela is an example of someone who ended the cycle of hate. After being a violent leader against his government, he was imprisoned. And then, something happened.
When he emerged from his jail cell, he was a different man. A man filled with peace. He led his people to become united and to reconciliation.
Mandela made a difference across the globe. The changes that followed were large and small. But the first change was within his own heart. He found peace in himself before he was able to lead others to find peace.
Change towards peace does not always have to be by the pound, it can be by the ounce. Ounce by ounce through prayer and contemplation, worship and Bible study, scheduled acts of mercy and random acts of kindness, we change ourselves. And in the process, make the world a better place.
Because love breeds love. Hope breeds hope. Justice breeds justice. And peace breeds peace.
Lord, thank you for your Son who gives us the ultimate example of what it means to lead peace. Change our hearts, O Lord, so that we may be filled with peace. Amen.