When Men Talk About Peace, Expect War
The following is from a Trumpet Brief sent out yesterday. These daily e-mails contain personal messages from the Trumpet staff. Click here to join the nearly 20,000 members of our mailing list, so you don’t miss another message!
I recently read an article about an addictive new mobile phone game sweeping China. One woman reportedly went blind in one eye after playing the game eight hours without moving. Another man suffered a stroke after playing the game 40 hours straight. In another instance, a 13-year-old boy suffered debilitating injuries when he jumped from a five-story building whilst running from his father who was attempting to take away his phone.
I’d like to think about this poor lad and his parents for a moment.
In the hours before this horrible tragedy, this household was probably quite peaceful. The boy, engrossed in his game, was probably fairly placid and quiet. We don’t know exactly what his parents were doing, but with their son distracted, they were free to get on with whatever tasks they wanted. So in the hours before the crisis, the household was likely quite stable and tranquil. Then, all of a sudden, tragedy. The home erupted with tension, disarray, conflict—then terrible suffering. Even today this poor family no doubt suffers the consequences of those fateful few minutes.
But did peace really exist in the hours before this catastrophe?
Or was the peace in that household merely an illusion? And not just an illusion, but a deadly illusion? In hindsight, it’s obvious that in the hours when everything seemed peaceful, when everyone in that apartment seemed satisfied and content, a terrible conflict was building. In fact, the fake peace actually facilitated the conflict and crisis. (The more absorbed the boy became with the game, the harder it was for him to give it up.) In the end, all that was needed to unleash tragedy was a catalyst. In this instance, the catalyst was as trivial as the father instructing his son to stop playing the video game.
Where am I going with this?
Isn’t this same peace illusion present in homes and communities, schools and workplaces, parliaments and palaces all over this planet? The peace that existed in that apartment in China is a microcosm of the peace most humans experience. Across the world, nations, communities, families and individuals have been deceived into believing they have peace and stability. In reality, the peace and stability they experience is so often an illusion.
In many respects, we are no different from my 20-month-old daughter, Sage, and Trumpet writer Richard Palmer’s 19-month-old daughter, Katherine. Sage and Katy see one another regularly and generally get along great. These two are peas in a pod, so long as each toddler has her own toy and each is fulfilling her own will and interests. Watching them play together is one of the cutest, most peaceful scenes you can imagine. But it’s remarkable how quickly and dramatically the scene can change. All it takes is a mean look, a shove, a simultaneous move toward the same toy, a snatch, and in a matter of seconds the peaceful utopia transforms into full-blown conflict.
Aren’t we all a bit (or a lot) like Sage and Katherine? Life is great, life is peaceful and stable, and we are content—just as long as everything is going our way. Just as long as our selfish needs and interests are satisfied. But what happens when our little world is shaken? When our views are challenged, our hopes and aspirations undermined, or our material needs and comforts taken away? Sometimes it only takes a few seconds—sometimes it takes days, weeks or months—but chaos, tension and, very often, crisis ensues.
Again, this applies at all levels, not just individually or within families. The German public seemed so content and tranquil in 2015, even as hundreds of thousands of migrants entered the nation. Nowadays, many native Germans are seething with frustration and anger because they fear the migrants will jeopardize their livelihoods and their way of life. The appearance of relative peace and stability masks some enormous issues, issues that are sure to explode and precipitate major political and social crises.
It’s the same in Britain and America. Despite some glaring warning signs (the frequent eruption of race riots in U.S. cities, for example), many Americans continue to live under the illusion that society is generally peaceful and stable, and that in the long run everything will be OK. For many Americans, life is stable and peaceful so long as fuel is cheap, food is plenteous, and Netflix and the sports channels are working. But the peace and stability many think they have is an illusion!
What is the source of this peace illusion?
The Bible plainly reveals the existence of a devil, a fundamentally evil, vain, selfish spirit being who lives to undermine God and His plan. (You can study the truth about the devil more deeply in chapter 2 of Mystery of the Ages.) In 2 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul warns us that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” Satan does not come across to human beings as a dreaded villain. One of his greatest talents is turning reality upside down. The devil is the ultimate chameleon and has mastered the ability to sell himself as God. Satan has deceived men into believing that right is wrong, that good is evil. He is also the master of creating the illusion of peace.
Simply put, the peace illusion is rooted in vanity and selfishness. Take the lad in China. He was peaceful, as long as he was allowed to have his phone. It’s the same with Sage and Katherine. These two are a snapshot of a peaceful utopia, so long as each is fulfilling her selfish interest. It’s the same all across the world: Selfishness and self-preservation are at the root of virtually every instance of peace and stability humans experience.
Take away the personal benefit, and boom: chaos. Impair a person’s ability to derive enjoyment or satisfaction, and boom: tension. Expose an individual’s failings or shortcomings, and boom: an argument. Encroach upon national sovereignty, and boom: conflict. In many instances, the peace that individuals, communities and nations experience is an illusion. It’s fleeting and tenuous, and this means it is likely to descend into conflict and crisis.
The peace illusion, whether it’s unfolding on an individual level, within a family, or among communities, groups or even nations, is dangerous. Why? Because as long as there is the illusion of peace, as long as people believe everything is tranquil and stable, there is little motivation to change. The peace illusion creates a false sense of security. It masks danger, instability and threats. It undermines vigilance.
The Bible has a lot to say about the peace illusion. Multiple prophecies warn that the worst time of suffering in human history will be preceded by a widespread belief that the world is peaceful and stable. In Jeremiah 8, the prophet warned that people who are just about to plunge into this global disaster would be saying, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (verse 11). In verse 15, the prophet describes a world in which men “looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!”
The Apostle Paul delivered a similar prophecy. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). The more our leaders talk about peace, the more likely it is that conflict is near! In a way, both Jeremiah and Paul are warning us: Beware of the peace illusion!
So what about real, lasting, permanent peace? Is it possible? Can you have it? You can! The Bible tells us that we accomplish peace, be it individually or collectively, by obeying God’s law of love. Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” “The way of peace,” explained Herbert W. Armstrong, “is defined biblically as ‘the law of God.’ And it is practical—it works—it really produces peace!” (co-worker letter, June 28, 1971).
For nearly 60 years, Mr. Armstrong traveled the world explaining what he called “the way of peace.” “There is a way that causes peace! It is as simple as ‘two plus two equals four.’ Everything is a matter of cause and effect. For every effect, there has to be a cause. There has to be—and there is—a way that causes peace” (ibid). To learn the secrets about the way of peace, and to learn how you can experience this inner peace, request and study The Way of Peace Restored Momentarily and Ambassador for World Peace.
God revealed the way of peace to Herbert Armstrong, and He will reveal it to you. Then you can enjoy the hope and joy of true, deep, lasting peace in your home, every day.