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I AM FOR PEACE,
BUT THEY ARE FOR WAR

A SERMON DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
United Methodist - American Baptist
10 May 1998

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
flh@all-creatures.org

 

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 120:1-7
Psalm 148:1-14

Matthew 5:9
Romans 8:19

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Two weeks ago, we talked about the whole of creation waiting for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God, as we are told in Romans 8:19:

19    The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
(NIV)

And who are these sons and daughters of God?

They are the ones of whom Jesus spoke in His "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5:9):

9    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
(NIV)

O Lord, why haven't most of your people heard your message for nearly two thousand years?

I am for peace, but they are for war.

Even hundreds of years earlier, your psalmist cried out with a similar message (Psalm 120:1-7):

1    In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.

2    Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.


3    What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?


4    Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.


5    Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!


6    My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.


7    I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.
(KJV)

It seems that hardly a single day passes without our encountering lying lips and deceitful tongues, whether in person or in a story carried by the media.

The psalmist, who himself is for peace, seems to be "forced" to live among evil people, symbolized by Mesech and Kedar, who are for war.

When we think about war, we think about fighting with other people, but in the process, we make war with much more.

Even if we don't go to war in the traditional sense, we can still make war with God's creation, which was created in peace, and for peace.

In the light of what we've been talking about, let's turn to Psalm 148.

1    Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above.

2    Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.


3    Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.


4    Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.


5    Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.


6    He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.

The whole of the universe is called upon to praise God.

Since God spoke the universe into existence, does it in some way hear and respond to the Lord in ways that we do not understand?

And this can also mean, that we, who gaze upon its splendor, praise Him because of what we see.

7    Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,

I am a whale, one of the Lord's great sea creatures.

I am for peace, but men have made war against me and my people, and nearly destroyed us until other people with soft hearts stopped them from their warring madness.

Now others have started to make war against us again.

I am for peace, but they are for war.

I am one of the oceans that the Lord has lovingly created.

I am for peace, but humans have made war against me.

They have dumped garbage and toxic chemicals into me; they have polluted the rivers and streams that feed me, and I am being poisoned.

And those who dwell in me are being poisoned, too.

I am for peace, but they are for war.

8    lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,

9    you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,

O Lord, I, your rain forest, am for peace.

I purify your air.

My roots protect your mountains, streams, lakes, and rivers.

Many of your creatures live within my protective covering.

But men have made war against me.

They burn me with fire and abuse the soil beneath me.

I can no longer clean your air or contain your rain water.

I am being washed away into your waters and they are becoming polluted, and your creatures are dying.

I am for peace, but they are for war.

10    wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,

I am one of Your cattle, Lord, whom You created to graze upon Your green grass.

I am for peace, but men have made war against me.

I am no longer free, but am kept as a slave in prisons, in many of which I am tortured and abused and eventually killed.

I am no longer allowed to live out my life as You intended, Lord.

I am for peace, but they are for war.

I am one of Your chickens, Lord, and I can fly like Your other birds, but I am no longer allowed to do so.

I am kept in over-crowded prisons where we get so frustrated we start pecking at each other; others of us are kept in cages that are so small we can't even move.

And we are forced to become cannibals and eat our own feces; we are tortured and killed.

I am for peace, but they are for war.

11    kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth,

All of the kings and princes and rulers of the earth are being called upon to praise the Lord, for true praise comes forth from a peaceful heart; but alas, far too many of them always seem intent on war.

I am for peace, but they are for war.

12    young men and maidens, old men and children.

I believe that for the most part, people are for peace.

But most people are also weak, and they go along with their leaders who are for war, and they become as those who are for war, and thus we have wars and killing and unbelievable suffering.

And it never seems to end.

I am for peace, but they are for war.

13    Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

If we would only do this, as God intended; if we would truly seek the intent of God, and not the will of other people, we could indeed have peace.

14    He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the LORD.
(NIV)

I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.

How can we say we love the Lord and praise Him, and at the same time make war upon His creation?

The simple answer is we can't, for to do so is hypocritical.

To be a true son and daughter of God, we also must be a peacemaker.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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