Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Islam – A Religion of Peace?


Muslims killing Muslims

By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

A recent news release gave a summary of Muslims killing Muslims. It follows:

Since 1948, almost 10 million Muslims have died at the hands of fellow Muslims

Where is the outrage over that? Double standards abound. As the Israeli envoy Dan Gillerman said in 2008: "When Christians kill Muslims, it's the Crusades. When Jews kill Muslims it's murder, and when Muslims kill Muslims, it's like talking about the weather. Nobody really cares about it."

And as the late Samuel P. Huntington observed: "Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors. The question naturally rises as to whether this pattern of the late 20th century conflict between Muslim and non-Muslim groups is equally true of relations between groups from other civilizations. In fact, it is not. Muslims make up 1/5 of the world's population but in the 1990s they have been far more involved in intergroup violence than the people of any other civilization....Islam's borders are bloody, and so are its innards."

Note also the Ahmadinejadesque (to coin a new term) rhetoric from Turkey's Erdogan. "Why Golda Meir was right," by Burak Bekdil for the Hurriyet Daily News, August 23 (thanks to Joshua):

It has been more than two and a half years since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told to Israeli President Shimon Peres’s face, “You (Jews) know well how to kill.” Prime Minister Erdogan  has also declared more than a few times that the main obstacle to peace in this part of the world is Israel, once calling the Jewish state “a festering boil in the Middle East that spreads hate and enmity.” In this holy month of Ramadan full of blood on Muslim territories, let’s try to identify who are the ones who know well how to kill.

As the Syrian death count clicks every day to come close to 2,000, the Turkish-Kurdish death count does not stop, already over 40,000 since 1984, both adding to the big pool of blood called the Middle East. Only during this Ramadan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK’s, death toll has reached 50 in this Muslim Kurds vs. Muslim Turks war. This excludes the PKK casualties in Turkey and in northern Iraq due to Turkish military retaliation since they are seldom accurately reported.

Let’s speak of facts.

Sudan is not in the conventional Middle East, so let’s ignore the genocide there. Let’s ignore, also, the West Pakistani massacres in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) totaling 1.25 million in 1971. Or 200,000 deaths in Algeria in war between Islamists and the government in 1991-2006.

But a simple, strictly Middle East research will give you one million deaths in the all-Muslim Iran-Iraq war; 300,000 Muslim minorities killed by Saddam Hussein; 80,000 Iranians killed during the Islamic revolution; 25,000 deaths in 1970-71, the days of Black September, by the Jordanian government in its fight against the Palestinians; and 20,000 Islamists killed in 1982 by the elder al-Assad in Hama. The World Health Organization’s estimate of Osama bin Laden’s carnage in Iraq was already 150,000 a few years earlier.

In a 2007 research, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found out that some 11 million Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, (0.3 percent) died during the six years of Arab war against Israel, or one out of every 315 fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent who perished were killed by fellow Muslims.

It bears repeating that the Arab nations went to war with Israel with the expectation of annihilating the Jewish state once and for all. But the Arab states kept losing the wars.

According to Mssrs. Heinsohn and Pipes, the grisly inventory finds the total number of deaths in conflicts all over the world since 1950 numbering around 85 million. Of that, the Muslim Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict were at 46,000 including 11,000 during Israel’s war of independence. That makes 0.05 percent of all deaths in all conflicts, or 0.4 percent of all Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In another calculation ignoring “small” massacres like the one that goes on in Syria and other deaths during the Arab Spring, only Saddam’s Iraq, Jordan, the elder al-Assad’s Syria, Iran-Iraq war, the bin Laden campaign in Iraq, the Iranian Islamic revolution and the Turkish-Kurdish conflict caused 1.65 million Muslim deaths by Muslims compared to less than 50,000 deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1950, including fatalities during and after Operation Cast Lead which came after the Heinsohn-Pipes study. For those who don’t have a calculator ready at their desks, allow me to tell: 50,000 is three percent of 1.65 million.

Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, or rather the “Mother of Israel,” had a perfectly realistic point when she said that peace in the Middle East would only be possible “when Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”

(Source: Jihad Watch, Since 1948, almost 10 million Muslims have died at the hands of fellow Muslims; posted by Marisol on August 24, 2011)

What happened to the slogan that Islam is a religion of peace?  What is peace?  We will survey the Qur’an for references to peace, and then contrast that with the New Testament references to peace.

In some translations of the Qur’an many of the references to peace are related to the phrase concerning Mohammed, “Peace be upon him.” Yet, this phrase is not in the Arabic text.  It is ironic that translators insert the phrase concerning a man who called for jihad (war) against so many people in Arabia and the world.

Our first genuine reference to “peace” concerns a person who makes peace in the matter of a will.

2:182 “But he who feareth from a testator some unjust or sinful clause, and maketh peace between the parties, (it shall be) no sin for him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

The next reference to peace is found in 2:224 “And make not Allah, by your oaths, a hindrance to your being righteous and observing your duty unto Him and making peace among mankind. Allah is Hearer, Knower.”

The verses that precede this one refer to sexual intercourse, how and when it is allowed.  This passage seems out of place in the context, but it does affirm the idea of making peace among people, probably two men who have a conflict with one another.

Bringing peace to mankind as a whole seems related only to the sword in forced conversions to make everyone a Muslim.  This is implied in the following quote: 4:91 “If they keep not aloof from you nor offer you peace nor hold their hands, then take them and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.”

The next reference concerns the accidental killing of another Muslim.

4:92   “It is not for a believer to kill a believer unless (it be) by mistake. He who hath killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave.”   There does not seem to be any mistake in the wars described above.  They are deliberate and intend to kill each other.

4:128  “If a woman feareth ill treatment from her husband, or desertion, it is no sin for them twain if they make terms of peace between themselves. Peace is better. But greed hath been made present in the minds (of men). If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do.”   This is a mandate for peace in the family.  Peace in the family is better than discord.

5:16  “Whereby Allah guideth him who seeketh His good pleasure unto paths of peace.”

Hilali-Khan translates the verse, “Wherewith Allah guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to ways of peace, and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto light and guides them to a Straight Way (Islamic Monotheism).”

What are the ways of peace?   “The Straight Way” has not brought peace.

6:127  “For them is the abode of peace with their Lord. He will be their Protecting Friend because of what they used to do.”

There are several references to peace in regard to people being welcomed to paradise: 7:46; 10:10; 10:25; 13:24; 14:23; 15:46; 16:32; 19:62; 25:75; 33:44; 34:37; 39:73; 48:4; 50:34.

9:5  “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”   Mohammed could not admit that people who disagreed with him had the right to live in peace.  Slaying dissidents who reject you does not bring peace, only revenge or war.

9:26  “Then Allah sent His peace of reassurance down upon His messenger and upon the believers, and sent down hosts ye could not see, and punished those who disbelieved. Such is the reward of disbelievers.”

This refers to the battle of Badr in which the Muslims were out numbered by the enemy and Mohammed proclaimed that angelic hosts were there to do battle for the Muslims.  It is claimed that the Muslims could not see the angels but the enemy could.  The angels brought victory to the Muslims.  For Mohammed to make such a claim is interesting and it is interesting that people believed him. One can always claim to see things that no one else can see.  The same question relates to the following sura.

9:40  “If ye help him not, still Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Lo! Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with hosts ye cannot see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah's Word it was that became the uppermost. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” Mohammed claimed other “visions” which no one could see as in the story that he saw hell which was populated mostly by women.

11:48  “It was said (unto him): O Noah! Go thou down (from the mountain) with peace from Us and blessings upon thee and some nations (that will spring) from those with thee. (There will be other) nations unto whom We shall give enjoyment a long while and then a painful doom from Us will overtake them.”

19:15  “Peace on him the day he was born, and the day he dieth and the day he shall be raised alive!”  (With reference to John the Baptist’s birth.)

19:47  “He said: Peace be unto thee! I shall ask forgiveness of my Lord for thee. Lo! He was ever gracious unto me.”  (This involves the non-Biblical legend about Abraham asking forgiveness for his father.)

24:27  “O ye who believe! Enter not houses other than your own without first announcing your presence and invoking peace upon the folk thereof. That is better for you, that ye may be heedful.”

One may wonder how this verse was forgotten in Iraq when Muslims came to the door of Christians and threatened them to pay the jizya or be killed, or leave the country.

24:61  “But when ye enter houses, salute one another with a greeting from Allah, blessed and sweet. Thus Allah maketh clear His revelations for you, that haply ye may understand.”

25:63  “The (faithful) slaves of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish ones address them answer: Peace;”

27:59  “Say (O Muhammad): Praise be to Allah, and peace be on His slaves whom He hath chosen! Is Allah best, or (all) that ye ascribe as partners (unto Him)?” This is embedded in the story about Lot and his wife.

28:55  “And when they hear vanity they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you! We desire not the ignorant.”   According to the translators Al-Hilali & Khan, the word translated as “vanity” by Pickthall refers to “dirty, false, evil vain talk.”

37:79  “Peace be unto Noah among the peoples!”  37:109  “Peace be unto Abraham!”    37:120  “Peace be unto Moses and Aaron!”   37:130  “Peace be unto Elias!” 37:181  “And peace be unto those sent (to warn).”

47:35  “So do not falter and cry out for peace when ye (will be) the uppermost, and Allah is with you, and He will not grudge (the reward of) your actions.”  Don’t give up the fight too soon, you might win.

48:18  “Allah was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance unto thee beneath the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down peace of reassurance on them, and hath rewarded them with a near victory;”  (This is in a context of fighting and hope of paradise.)

49:9  “And if two parties of believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them. And if one party of them doeth wrong to the other, fight ye that which doeth wrong till it return unto the ordinance of Allah; then, if it return, make peace between them justly, and act equitably. Lo! Allah loveth the equitable.” This is one of the few passages relating to peace between different parties.

49:10  “The believers are naught else than brothers. Therefore make peace between your brethren and observe your duty to Allah that haply ye may obtain mercy.”   But what about those people who are not your brothers?

50:34  “Enter it in peace. This is the day of immortality.”

51:25  “When they came in unto him and said: Peace! he answered, Peace! (and thought): Folk unknown (to me).”   This relates to the greeting of Abraham to the angels.

56:91  “Then (the greeting) "Peace be unto thee" from those on the right hand.”  This is also a greeting at the judgment before entering paradise.

59:23  “He is Allah, than Whom there is no other God, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be Allah from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him).”   This seems to relate to Allah who is Peace, as well as the other words.

89:27  “But ah! thou soul at peace!”   This seems to be one of peace of the soul.

There is almost no admonition for personal peace of mind.  There is little in terms of relationships of peace between people, getting along with others.  There is no context of letting people alone to live their lives who are not Muslims. When you have the upper hand in fighting do not seek peace because you may have the victory.

We will turn from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, and look at the New Testament, the holy book of Christians.

There are 87 verses in the New Testament in which peace is mentioned.  The contrast between the New Testament and the Qur’an is sharp in many aspects.  First, we need to define peace.

What is the peace of God?  The Greek word είρήνη (Eirene) is defined as “a state of national tranquility, exemption from the rage and havoc of war.”   It is used to refer to “peace between individuals, harmony, concord.”   It is also used to translate the Hebrew Shalom, meaning “security, safety, prosperity, and felicity.”  There is a use of the term to describe the Christian who has a “tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”   This describes the peace with God that comes from his gracious gift of everlasting life in Christ.  (Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 182)

As we explore the New Testament we can see the different facets of the definitions above.

I.   Peace with God or Peace from God.

The background of this is that the human race has rebelled against God.  The history of humanity is a story of wars, torture, killing, raping, enslavement, and other evils.  Man has gone his way in disobedience to God.   How can he find God again?   Is there any hope for peace in his life? Where and how can humans find peace?

The life of Jesus and the good news about the Kingdom of God is the basis of hope and peace.

Paul wrote to the church at Rome in the first century that it is “by faith we have been made acceptable to God, and now because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God.” (Romans 5:1) Further into the text he wrote, “Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us.  Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son’s life.  And in addition to everything else, we are happy because God sent our Lord Jesus Christ to make peace with us.” (Romans 5:10-11)

Our desires do not bring peace.  Having what we want does not bring peace.  Having wealth does not bring peace.  Sensuality will not bring peace, only disappointment.  But “if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)  These are not mere words that are described here.  They are wonderful in themselves, but we are not left helpless.  The gift of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, indwells the believer and Paul wrote, “... if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace.”  The Spirit brings peace to the repentant soul.  The role of the Spirit is further stated in Romans 14.17, “God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit.”

Toward the end of the letter to the Romans Paul wrote, “I pray that God, who gives hope, will bless you with complete happiness and peace because of your faith.  And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.” (Romans 15:13)

We can make a few summary statements found in these passages.  First, it is possible to have peace with God right now.  This is not a peace that comes in the Muslim sense of paradise where there is freedom from jihad and war.  In the midst of trials of life peace is something that God gives right now.  Second, peace relates to God’s forgiveness in Christ.  People want to know if their sins are forgiven.  Paul wrote to the church at Colosse, “God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who forgives our sins and sets us free. (Colossians 1:13-14)  Further into the letter are these words, “God himself was pleased to live fully in his Son. And God was pleased for him to make peace by sacrificing his blood on the cross, so that all beings in heaven and on earth would be brought back to God.  You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things.  But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent.” (Colossians 1:19-22)

Third, if you want forgiveness now and peace now, you have to relate to God’s Son who died for you. Moreover, the only way to have this peace and forgiveness is to ask Yahweh for the gift of His Son in your life and the Spirit of God will enter into your life.  It is God’s peace, not your own. Peace is a gift which God gives when we confess our sins and seek His forgiveness. The book of Ephesians says, “You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn't something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Fourth, this will require the Muslim reader to re-think the re-writing of history by Muslims in denying that Jesus was crucified and was resurrected three days later. Both secular and sacred documents affirm that Jesus was crucified. Moreover, there is another great problem for the Muslim.  They deny the source of peace, that is the Spirit of God. If you deny and reject the Spirit of God promised by Jesus to his followers then there is no real source of peace, there is no other place to find peace.

Fifth, does the reader really want peace and forgiveness now?  Or, do you want to continue in the traditions that are without peace?  This will require a new commitment to the search for truth.

There are many more passages of the New Testament relating to peace from God, or peace with God. The phrase “God of peace” is a title used in Romans 15:33, Romans 16:20; Philippians 4:9: 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33; 2 Corinthians 13:11.

Many of the letters of the New Testament have a greeting in the opening paragraphs about peace.

1 Corinthians 1:3, “My prayer is that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!”

2 Corinthians 1:2, “I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace.”

Galatians 1:3, “I pray that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace.”

Ephesians 1:2, “I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!”

Peace comes from Yahweh, nowhere else. A woman who had suffered for 12 years from sickness came to Jesus, “The woman had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him in the crowd and barely touched his clothes.  She had said to herself, "If I can just touch his clothes, I will get well."   As soon as she touched them, her bleeding stopped, and she knew she was well. At that moment Jesus felt power go out from him. He turned to the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"   His disciples said to him, "Look at all these people crowding around you! How can you ask who touched you?" But Jesus turned to see who had touched him.  The woman knew what had happened to her. She came shaking with fear and knelt down in front of Jesus. Then she told him the whole story.  Jesus said to the woman, "You are now well because of your faith. May God give you peace! You are healed, and you will no longer be in pain."”  (Mark 5:27-34)

II. The Mission of the church is to declare the peace of God to all people.

This is expressed in a number of places.  Paul states this to the church at Corinth,

“God has done it all!  He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others.  What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of the world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace.  We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message.  We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

Paul dealt with a problem that existed between Jews and Gentiles.  The Jews were the people through whom the Messiah came.  The Gentiles were outside the Old Testament covenant people.  There was enmity between the two groups.  When Christ came something important happened.

“At that time you did not know about Christ. You were foreigners to the people of Israel, and you had no part in the promises that God had made to them. You were living in this world without hope and without God,   and you were far from God. But Christ offered his life's blood as a sacrifice and brought you near God.   Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles, and he has united us by breaking down the wall of hatred that separated us. Christ gave his own body   to destroy the Law of Moses with all its rules and commands. He even brought Jews and Gentiles together as though we were only one person, when he united us in peace.  On the cross Christ did away with our hatred for each other. He also made peace between us and God by uniting Jews and Gentiles in one body.   Christ came and preached peace to you Gentiles, who were far from God, and peace to us Jews, who were near God.   And because of Christ, all of us can come to the Father by the same Spirit.   You Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens with everyone else who belongs to the family of God”.  (Ephesians 2:12-19)

What a contrast!!  We were without hope and without God.  But Christ came and made peace.

There is peace because people in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, are no longer at enmity with one another.  Where Christ is in the hearts of Jews and Gentiles there is peace and a sense of oneness.  The same is true where Christ is in the heart of a former Muslim there is peace and love between followers of Jesus.

The peace that comes from God through Christ is unlike anything the world has.  Paul described this in writing to the church at Philippi, “Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand.  And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” (Philippians 4:7)  The depth of this peace in the life of the believer has its basis in the words of Jesus. “I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.”  (John 14.27)

It is the peace of Christ that enables a person to look death in the face and say, “I am not afraid, I am at peace with God. I am ready to go home.”  It is the peace of Christ that enables a person to leave home and go to a hostile area to declare the peace of God in Christ.

There is an exception mentioned by Jesus concerning the issue of peace. The following passage has it: “If you tell others that you belong to me, I will tell my Father in heaven that you are my followers. But if you reject me, I will tell my Father in heaven that you don’t belong to me.  Don’t think that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came to bring trouble, not peace. I came to turn sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law.” (Matthew 10:32-35)

The reality expressed in this passage is seen in the division of a family in which a son becomes a follower of Jesus and his father and mother reject him. The person still has the peace of Christ in their life, but they are rejected by the parents.  More tragic is the example of a Muslim son who receives Christ in his life and he is killed by his parents in obedience to the words of Mohammed, to kill the apostate.

One of the important differences between peace in Islam and peace in Christ relate to when it occurs.  In Islam there is no real peace until one enters Paradise.  The command for the Muslim to do jihad is divisive and does not lead to peace. In the Christian view peace is a reality right now.  Peace in the midst of trials of life is available.  Life in the Kingdom of God now is altogether different from the Muslim’s paradise of sexual fulfillment.  When one considers the words of Jesus about not marrying in the heavenly Kingdom of God there is bound to be great bitterness about being mislead when there are no virgins wherever they are.

III. The Christian is called to be a peace-maker.

Jesus said, “God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children.” (Matthew 5:9)   There are people who have a gift of mediating between two opposing people, or groups.  Their wisdom helps people to be at peace with one another.  The book of James (3:16-18) speaks of wisdom in contrast to the things people do.

“Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things.  But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere. When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.”

The followers of Jesus are to be peaceful people. Jesus described people who are to be the “salt of the earth,” common people who “live at peace with each other.” (Matthew 9:50)  This appeal to peace is reflected in a number of the letters of the New Testament.   Paul wrote, “we should try to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith.” (Romans 14:19)   At the end of his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “Good-by, my friends. Do better and pay attention to what I have said.  Try to get along and live peacefully with each other.  Now I pray that God, who gives love and peace, will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)  To another church he wrote: “Try your best to let God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

To the church at Colosse Paul wrote,

Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better. It doesn't matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are circumcised or not. You may even be a barbarian or a Scythian, and you may be a slave or a free person. Yet Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.  God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient.  Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together. Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. (Colossians 3:10-16)

A number of ideas are in this passage. First, becoming a new person. This becomes a reality in receiving Christ into your life.  It does not matter who you are or were, what matters is Christ and his life in all of us. Second, God loves you and since he forgives, we must also forgive. Third, love is a life style. Love binds the hearts of believers together. Since we are part of the body of Christ we were commanded to live in peace together.  Fourth, contrary to Mohammed’s disdain for music, the thankful heart cannot help but sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God. Where there is joy there is a heart that bubbles up into song and thanksgiving.

Peace comes from the presence of Christ. It is not automatically practiced without conscious commitment. Paul prays for the church at Thessalonica, “I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy.  And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.” (5:23)

Practicing the presence of Christ as the guiding influence in our lives sometimes involves correction and repentance.  The book of Hebrews describes this: “It is never fun to be corrected.  In fact, at the time it is always painful.  But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live in peace.” (12:11) Following this is the admonition: “Try to live at peace with everyone! Live a clean life. If you don’t you will never see the Lord.” (12:14)

There is a serious admonition in 1 Peter 5:14: “Give up your evil ways and do right, as you find and follow the road that leads to peace.”  The second letter of Peter has a prayer, “I pray that God will be kind to you and will let you live in perfect peace! May you keep learning more and more about God and our Lord Jesus.”  (2 Peter 1:2)   Further in the letter there is the command,

“My friends, while you are waiting, you should make certain that the Lord finds you pure, spotless, and living at peace.” (2 Peter 3:14)

In conclusion it must be emphasized that war has never been commanded in the New Testament. It has many commands for peace. Whatever historical leader in the west declared war against anyone, it was done without a mandate from the New Testament. It may be called a religious war by the media, but it can never be a New Testament war.  In contrast to the Muslim world killing one another, we are called to peace. The peace of God is our command. The world needs peace more than ever.