Here is the last installment of Parents are Peacemakers! And of course, I saved the best for last. This final essay on Christ’s Way of Peace needs little by way of introduction as the title says it all. I hope you have enjoyed it.
Teaching from peace,
- CHRIST’S WAY OF PEACE.
(1) The way the world gives peace.
Christ’s different way.
(2) The way opens in darkness and need.
(3) Turn round to find daylight.
Discussion on children’s prayers, public worship, Bible reading at home.
- It was said of our Lord Jesus Christ before He was born that He was coming to do two things for mankind: He would give light to them that sit in darkness, in the shadow of death, and He would guide our feet into the way of peace. He Himself told His friends that He gave them peace, His own peace, not the kind of peace that the world gives to people.
What peace does the world give? The rulers of the nations have different ideas about the way to bring peace to their countries. Some put their trust in a strong armed force, a secret police, an army, which will enforce the law and suppress disorder. Yet the strongest rule is weak at times and then there spring up those desires and passions which have been kept down so long and there is revolution.
Others believe that peace can be given through tradition and rules of behaviour and sound public opinion. They say that the best control is that of steady rules of conduct which it is a public disgrace to break. But a new generation rises up, full of new ideas, sweeping past the old manners and customs. It goes its way producing endless unrest and confusion.
Some believe that the way to peace is to be wise and to understand the deep truths of life. They place their faith in a theory of life, in education, in the power of the mind of man. But the truths which philosophers discover and teach seldom find a following. They are only half understood for few men or women have leisure or ability or training to enable them to grasp the whole of a message clearly enough to put it into daily practice. A single notion is taken up and applied at random. Then the teaching is disbelieved and ignored. Peace might be built on the truths which wise men discover and teach if only mankind were ready to receive their teaching. But how preoccupied we all are with urgent daily problems, business and pleasures. We have no time, we cannot give our full attention to that kind of thing when there is so much to be done. So we go on as usual, sitting in darkness which the light of philosophy cannot penetrate.
Christ did not choose any of these ways. He did not choose force, or civilised manners, or philosophy. No, His light shone into the darkness of ignorance, shone right down upon the needs of men and rested there. Every man is needy from the cradle to the grave and this light came to every man that ever came into
the world. It shone first in a manger, it was eclipsed upon a Cross but it still comes, the bright the morning star, into every life that turns towards it.
- Darkness and need, twin rocks of human nature, the ground, the lowest place, the last fact—it is these which our Lord chooses as a gateway to His path of peace. How do we find the gateway? What makes us turn round to see it? Those who came to Christ when He was on earth sought Him out because they knew that they needed His help. They were ill or maimed and they came for healing. They were famished with hunger, far away from shops, and they came for food. They were told that He could explain their difficulties and tell them the truth and they came for teaching. They believed that He was the Messiah, the prophet, and they came for leadership, to be His followers. The needs of these people of whom we read in the Bible made them come to Christ. The trouble in our day is that we sit in a new kind of darkness which prevents us from feeling our own neediness. It is a comfortable dark place, lit by electricity and we forget the need of daylight. Comfortable? Yes, we would all be content if we all had an ample steady wage, decent insurance, a good house, warm clothes, shops and a cinema handy, kindly friends and neighbours. In darkness? Yes. What else are bad tempers, little mean actions, empty minds, hard hearts, unforgiving spirits, selfish deeds? Electric light? Yes, that’s all we have. The sort of light that the radio, the newspaper, the cinema, can give people when they are in a difficulty. Without daylight? Yes, without the true inspiration and daily help of the Holy Spirit, which is the gift of God.
It is not easy in the twentieth century to give thought to needs which are not the obvious everyday ones of ordinary living. We have our necessary comings and goings, our interests, our relations and friends, amusements, professions and trades. These fill our thoughts, time passes quickly. At the back of our minds perhaps, there is restlessness and dissatisfaction, but we do our best to forget it when we feel it. We sit on in the electric lighted darkness enjoying our comforts and business, our duties and pleasures.
- If only every one of us could turn round, turn away from what we have and do and like, turn to face our needs, what we are, then we should know our poverty, our neediness and our darkness. We should see a little chink of daylight, just in the darkest place, and that would show us where the door opens into Christ’s way of peace. He is the door, and He is the way and He is the light. “I am the way”; “I am the truth”; “I am the light” “I am the life.” He waits there for us at the roots of our need and poverty, waits to lead us, to feed us, to heal us, to teach us, guiding the feet of those who trust Him, into the knowledge and love of God, which is man’s true peace. The tragedy of human life is that so few people know that they are ill and need a doctor, are hungry and need food, are ignorant and need teaching, are aimless and need leadership. Our whole sick, dark, war-ridden world needs a doctor, so do our shattered family life, our spoiled children, our greedy business and our competitive pride.
Thoughts of having and getting, of doing this and liking that, separate one person from another. These all have their right place in life but such thoughts set apart one family from another. Thoughts of what we are and what we need, recognition of dependence and weakness and need shared with all mankind, bring people together. Lovingkindness and mercy spring up between man and man, a humble heart looks up from man to God. Knowledge of these things makes men into brothers and teaches them to think of God as a Father.
A Father, we come back to parents and to families and to bringing up children. To bring them up means constant effort and loving care on the part of Fathers and Mothers. Two facts need to be remembered which cheer parents in their great work. The first is that the authority of parents is a very real thing, commanding natural obedience. Parents can expect to be obeyed, just as children expect to be told what they may and may not do. Obedience to true authority is part of human nature and a very real fact.
The second cheering fact is that human effort exerted in a good cause meets the help of God’s Holy Spirit. Parents and teachers do their part in daily effort, but working behind their thought and care is the energy and wisdom of the Spirit of Truth, the great educator, teacher and strengthener of mankind. Is something wrong at home? Is a word of correction needed? A habit to be formed, a treat to be planned? It is the Holy Spirit to whom we pray to give us a right judgment in all things, to say the right word at the right moment, to make the best decision. Having found the right word parents can trust to their authority and to the children’s obedience. They can carry the matter through quietly, with a firm hand.
Our Lord said that He had come that we all might have life, plenty of life. There is an old word for the means of living which might well be used of our Lord; it is the word “livelihood.” “What is his livelihood?” we ask. “What is his way of making a living?” The word used to mean a path of life. Christ is our livelihood and He leads us into the way of peace, a way that passes through the common needs of human nature, through daily effort, daily joys and troubles. In this path, with Christ to guide us, we find God’s Holy Will which is our peace. It is in this livelihood that every parent should strive to bring up every child.
Discussion on children’s prayers, public worship, Bible reading at home.
Typed by the Charlotte Mason Poetry transcription team.