What Is a Gospel of Peace?

Just because it’s already March doesn’t mean I haven’t been contemplating hopes and goals for 2024. Back in January, an idea took shape after participating in two very different but very important events: a funeral and a retirement ceremony. Both events were similar in that they honored women who had lived a life of service and dedication. One was remembered for her love and joy of serving her family and one recognized for her tireless work for the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. It was clear that the fruits of the spirit flourished and grew in their lives and the lives around them as a result of the way they moved through the world. 

One of the pieces of music performed at the retirement celebration was a choral work by Felix Mendelssohn called How Lovely are the Messengers.

How lovely are the messengers that bring us the gospel of peace.
To all the nations is gone forth the sound of their words.
Throughout all the lands their glad tidings.

How lovely are the messengers that bring us the gospel of peace.

Gospel of peace.

I can’t stop thinking about that phrase.

What exactly is a gospel of peace? And what does it look like to be a messenger of a gospel of peace?

Simply put, a gospel of peace is a message of the love of Christ for all people. It is a message to love God and love neighbor. It’s a reminder that all people (even the ones we don’t like) are children of God and are welcome at the table. It’s an invitation to come as you are and to receive grace and forgiveness and move throughout our lives knowing we are loved and can love in return.

What does it look like to be a messenger of peace? I’ve been thinking about that a lot over the past few months. I’ve been observant of those around me, my actions, and of women whom I look up to. I’ve taken note of the type of person I want to be and the effect I have on others. I want to be a messenger of peace and not anger. I want to advocate for unity, not division. I want to be known as a person who will listen with an open heart and mind. I want to see everyone around me with eyes of compassion and not judgment. I want to witness the beauty in the world, not just the tragedy. I want to respond to my environment and people with a spirit of gratitude instead of complaint. 

That’s a long list.

It is all well and good in theory but is it reasonable? Is it achievable? Is it possible to be a messenger of peace in such a broken world?

I’ll be the first to admit that I can easily focus on what is wrong in this world instead of what is good. I can be fatalistic and convinced that the hope for humanity is razor-thin. With each step our society takes towards idiocracy so grows my despair for the trajectory we have set ourselves on. I often wonder what is the point of no return for a functioning society and how close are we to that point. When we prioritize power, money, and greed; can we truly say that all people are created equal? Will there be a point in time when we wake up and realize that the way we have stewarded our planet is not steward at all but one of an abuser and rapist? And will it be too late?

Amid despair, injustice, and indifference; is it possible to be a messenger of the gospel of peace?

I believe it is possible to be a messenger of peace but it’s not always an easy path. It must be lived day by day and sometimes hour by hour. Sometimes it’s easy to love people and then sometimes it feels impossible. I must give myself permission to admit when I get it wrong and try to do better the next time. I must be willing to let go of harmful theology that taught me that I’m incapable of making good decisions on my own. I have to embrace original blessing and reject original sin for both myself and everyone else. Embrace the freedom found in God’s unconditional love and reject the idea that fear and shame should be the driving factors of how I live my life.

I must be willing to extend grace and also accept it for myself.

Being a messenger of the gospel of peace means remembering that everyone deserves a second, third, and fourth chance. Including myself. Let’s face it, we need infinite chances. Thank goodness the gospel of peace spans infinity.

I also have to continually remind myself that I’m not in control of anyone else but myself and my reactions. I can’t control the actions of others and it’s not my job to fix every broken thing. All I can do is try to bear good fruit into the world.

Most importantly, I must remember that I am not alone.

The Holy Spirit is the OG messenger of the gospel peace and she ministers to us whether we realize it or not. She has been observing all our foolishness and is always present; never judging, never punishing; just hanging out being the good fruit in our lives, in others, and in creation.

I hope that someday when it’s all said and done, someone will look back on my life and say how lovely…she was a messenger of peace.

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