By Dave Toycen -
“Grace and peace.” Since the first century, Christians have used these words as both a greeting and a blessing. But if merely speaking them – or writing them – were sufficient to spread them, our world would be a different place.
Clearly, the words themselves are not enough. Wanting grace and peace for our neighbor – and for our world – must go beyond simply wishing for them, no matter how well intentioned we may be. To be people who genuinely grant grace and spread peace, we must pray for God’s grace and peace – asking that they might flow through us. And we must act.
“Grace must find expression in life,” said Karl Barth, “otherwise it is not grace.”
The United Nations has set aside September 21 to mark the International Day of Peace.
According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, the financial cost of a lack of peace is astronomical; had the world been a completely peaceful place, the economic benefit to the global economy would have been an estimated US $9 trillion in the past year alone!
But at World Vision – where we’re more focused on the human cost of suffering – we know that it’s the poor – and particularly children – who hurt most in times of conflict. As the world’s most vulnerable citizens, they’re highly susceptible to the devastating effects of violence, effects that may linger for the rest of their lives.
What does granting grace and spreading peace look like in action? The question calls to my mind a woman I’ll call “M.” I visited with her in her home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo. After being forced to watch her husband murdered, his body desecrated, first M was brutally raped, then her daughters after her. In the wake of her devastation, M decided to devote her life to other women who’d been similarly brutalized.
When I met her in 2009, she had gathered over 100 women into her care; they were building a community – and new lives – together. M had managed to convince a nearby village to donate some land so they could grow crops. She’d made contact with a local hospital to ensure the women who looked to her for help received the treatment they needed.
Her example both humbles and reminds me – of the critical role that we as Christians – have to play in caring for the marginalized in our own communities.
We can trust in God and in the power of the Gospel to one day right all wrongs. We need not be bitter, angry, defensive, vengeful or fearful, but we can step out boldly in caring for our fellow human beings, confident that in so doing, we will be granting grace and spreading peace wherever we go.
Dave Toycen is President and CEO of World Vision Canada.
(Article photo by: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)