Sunday, March 24, 2013

Race Relations Day: World Peace?

 One step into the auditorium revealed that we were in for more than we bargained.

Saturday was "Race Relations Day" here in Whangarei.  An invitation was extended to me earlier in the week by a friend from Indonesia to attend this special event and watch her perform some traditional Indonesian dances. I was under the impression that this would be a drop-in multicultural festival of sorts, a chance to experience some different ethnic foods and meet new people.  Apparently what I expected and what was planned were two different things, because our "dropping in" 30 minutes late meant that we missed most of the Maori powhiri and stepped right into a full human rights programme.  The event was organized by the local Baha'i congregation and the human rights commission, with a proud transgender individual introducing the theme of the evening.

"What do you want to see for a better Aotearoa (New Zealand)?" was the question posed to the audience. Responses ranged from a desire to see restoration of the earthquake-ravaged Christchurch, to a land of full tolerance and acceptance.  I detected a common thread that seemed to link all the answers and it was this: the deeply human desire for peace, meaning and belonging.

The mantra broadcast by secularism today is that if people would just get over their differences, the human race could somehow reach a state of unity that would lift itself into a better world, a world of peace.  Unfortunately this is a deceived way of thinking, because what many people do not acknowledge is that an enemy lurks whose prime goal is to destroy peace at all costs. There will always be conflict.  There will always be misunderstanding.  Humankind does not have within her the capacity to find rescue from the confused cycle of living in which she finds herself.  

But God does!

The hope-filled message of Easter is that there is One who exists outside the cycle, One who can penetrate from the outside and provide a way of escape, and ultimately a way of peace.  He is Jesus Christ, the God-Man, who entered the human story, died on a cross as a ransom for all people, and then proved his superiority over all powers by raising from the dead. This is REALLY good news, people!

There will never be peace on earth until Christ rules.  So until then (when Jesus Christ returns, judges all evil and puts things to rights), the only way to experience peace on earth is for Christ to rule your heart.  The lyrics of one of my favourite songs says it so well:

 In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

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