War and peace have been the alternating experience of much of human history.
Peace, so difficult to gain and maintain, can be lost so quickly and easily.
The first world war multiplied outwards from the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian/Hungarian throne by a Yugoslav nationalist, creating a diplomatic crisis that would pull in nation after nation, and lead to the death of approximately 16,000,000 people – combatants and civilians, and some 20,000,000 wounded, more than any war that had preceded it.
The 1914-18 war was unlike any other in every way. It was the first World War, it’s horrors surpassed any before it, and it became known as the Great War. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars, yet not many years later the world would be at war once again.
The result of that and the following world war of 1939-45 would stall the idea of the advancement or improvement of mankind. Twentieth century humanity had not moved on, and the continuing conflicts of today reminds us that humanity is no further forward and peace is still a very elusive and fragile thing.
James says, “What causes wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:1,2), strong words indeed, but James knew what the human heart was capable of.
James tells us no matter the nature or size of the war the great problem is found in the human heart. In it he says there are cravings, passions, that move in all sorts of directions. Longings for things we don’t have, can’t have, shouldn’t have, or if they are right and good we go about them in the wrong way.
He reminds us that our motivations are skewed – bigtime, and as a result we go after those things, we plan and scheme, we orchestrate to get what we want. Wars are about who has control, who has power over another, but notice, in the end we don’t get what we really want, what we really need.
The Bible talks about the radical and complete fallenness of the human heart, about how it is at war with God, itself, and subsequently at war with those around. It unfolds a plan whereby Jesus would come and suffer himself at the hands of fallen men, men skewed themselves by jealousies, pride, and power, and pay the price for all our sin and brokenness on a cross.
He breaks down every wall of hostility between us and God, and ourselves and others.
Peace needs to be established and maintained in our hearts before we can be at peace with one another.
The only hope for our world is Jesus Christ who said “My peace I give unto you.”