Pushers of Peace

October 16, 2017 Justin Peter Gudel

My first draft of this post ended with an early content reader calling me Joel Osteen — a televangelist and labeled salesman of snake oil — with a net-worth of over 40 million dollars.

So here’s my second draft.

We live in a world of competing desires. Ambitions and passions war not only between various humans but within ourselves. Paul, one of the New Testament authors, wrote, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” In such a predicament, we find conflict and confusion both in the individual and the system we live.

Today, I want to talk about the second tent-post of being a DIY Christian. If you recall, the first tenant was that DIY Christians have been liberated. So what comes next?

DIY Christians are pushers of peace.

Before I ascribe a definition, let me share an experience from this past summer.

It was mid-July and the humid evening hung heavy as I sat on a friend’s patio. As per the norm, our conversation ended up on the deep end of philosophy, politics, and religion. In particular, we found ourselves drilling into the causes for the current emotional state of America.

I had been enjoying the experience when I noticed that my friend, who is tall, thin, and I’d describe as lanky, was no longer sitting but laying across his picnic table — a significant portion of his frame hung off precariously.

Also, he looked distressed.

I asked if he was ok. His response, whether intentional or not, was incisive and haunting.

He said, “The conversation has become entertainment.”

That hit me hard, and I found myself convicted. His simple sentence put a considerable portion of my life on trial. I love talking and hashing out ideas. I find it gratifying and helpful in identifying my thoughts. I think out loud.

But he was right. If all we do is discuss the problems, we don’t solve them. If the dialog ends with a feeling of accomplishment that doesn’t translate into a change in person or action, it can crassly be left at “entertainment.”

DIY Christians aren’t meant to be placeholders in pews. Punk Christians are about action as a natural response to being liberated. If the jail doors have swung open, yet you don’t leave your cell, have you embraced freedom?

A philosopher may counter the example by saying freedom grants you both the ability to leave or stay. But the existence of the DIY is one where we increase in life (leave) and increase it in others. This is what I mean when I call people to become pushers of peace.

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Several of its connotations include: harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, and tranquility — it is also used to say both hello and goodbye.

The closest word in the Greek of the New Testament is eiréné. In addition to meaning peace, it carries the idea of wholeness or the essential pieces being brought back together.

In this world of dominance and obligations, I believe that the most subversive thing a person can do is to increase the peace: in our lives, the lives of our family, our friends, strangers, the oppressed, and the hostile. It’s rebellious in that shalom doesn’t urge us to win. It’s insurgent in that eiréné calls us to bring the broken pieces back together.

In application, it means that in every situation, the DIY stops and reflects on how to multiply the peace around them.

Perhaps this is where the Joel Osteen slur came from. I’m not trying to bring forward a recipe for world peace. Admonish me if my message ever becomes one of purely social gospel. This second tent-post is about how we live in action and not of doctrine. We will always have the poor, the dejected, or those who are being marginalized. Jesus warned us of this. He also made it part of our work as his hands and feet.

Let me wind this down.

Entertain is for the moment.

Pushers of peace act within the moments, the interstices of the events in our lives to make positive impacts. This work comes naturally to the DIY as we embrace our liberation by Jesus’s sacrifice, compelling us to make known the Prince of Peace Himself.

This winter PunkChiridion hopes to write a concise book explaining its ethos. There will undoubtedly be a whole chapter on this thought.