I recently participated in a multi-faith symposium on the topic of fasting. (For my presentation of the Christian position on fasting, here) After the presentations there was a Q & A with the presenters taking questions from the audience. One of the questions was, “What do you think is the answer to bringing peace to the world?”
The imam’s response/solution to the problem of violence, unrest, man’s inhumanity to man, was that of promoting dialogue between religious faiths, similar to the one we were participating in that evening. Through such dialogue, the world would be brought to a peaceful existence.
The rabbi’s response was similar, that through our own human efforts of showing love and respect to one another we would find peace at the end of the road.
Although I agree in part with both the imam and rabbi regarding the positive effects of loving and respecting one another and the need for dialogue, history has shown that on their own these measures have proven to fall demonstrably short of bringing a solution to the conflict in the world, whether it be between countries, religions, families, etc. One need only look back on the millennia of mankind trying to achieve peace through dialogue, peace treaties (most of which were ultimately broken), UN resolutions , etc., which, although well meaning, have failed, hence, the ongoing global violence and conflict that prompted the original question. The reason that these types of approaches have failed, and continue to fail, is that they fail to address the root of the problem–the brokenness of the human heart. As former U.S. President Herbert Hoover so aptly put it, “Peace is not made at the council table or by treaties, but in the hearts of men.” It was for this reason that when the microphone was passed to me I presented a different approach and answer to the question.
I began by stating that although these initiatives were good and needed, they will not bring a lasting solution to the problem; only a regenerated, transformed heart will do that, and that can only come through the Prince of peace, Jesus Christ himself. I then went on to highlight the root of the problem—the broken condition of the heart of man. I quoted several references from the New Testament beginning with James 4:1-3:
Then to Jesus’ expose of the condition of the human heart from Mark 7:20-23:
Because of time constraints, I concluded my response by stating the Christian worldview’s solution to the problem-the transformation of the heart that Jesus promised to bring to those who truly desire it.
When addressing the issue of peace, John Paul ll makes a clear affirmation as to where peace must first be founded:
Preeminent missiologist, Frank Ellinwood, explains the uniqueness of the inner transformation of the Christian faith:
In His conversation with one of the religious leaders of His day, Jesus gave the ‘blueprint’ for the transformation of the human heart:
As the ‘salt and light’ of the world, which Jesus has called each of His followers to be, we must continue to present with all boldness where true and lasting peace can be found, that of a ‘born again’ and transformed heart through the redemptive work of the person of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we will be witnesses of the ‘way, the truth and the life,’ and thereby bring peace to the hearts and lives of those to whom we are ambassadors for Christ (John 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:20). (For more on the Christian calling as ‘salt & light’, here)
The following talk from Andy Bannister succinctly highlights the source of the world’s ills as well as the remedy-that of the inner transformation that only Jesus can bring.
Does Religion Poison Everything–Andy Bannister