Category: "Song"

WHAT IS PEACE ANYWAY?

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In the late Sixties, early Seventies I was not a Quaker but a Hippie Wanabe. I loved love and peace. These ideals were easy principles to tout and to try to live by. The love and peace gospel, so to speak, was not only a shibboleth, but also a cudgel for assaulting those who didn't hear the gospel or declined its apotheosis. While Quaker was a faded word from grade school history lesson, love and peace brightened my mind with stupendous certainties of worldly love and peace if only everyone--meaning the enemy of hippies, i.e., straight people, and straight at that time meaning those who declined smoking pot and dropping acid--would adopt love and peace. I must have felt myself to be one of the chosen people because I loved everybody in abstract and believed in peace wholeheartedly.

As a wanabe hippiy I hitchhiked with a friend from Michigan to California and back more than one time. And while in California hitchhiked from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Berkeley and back. I hitchhiked by myself once to Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Los Angeles. The times were different then and people, by that I mean hippies, were truly peaceful and there were so darn many of us at that time (we were baby boomers) few nefarious actors could penetrate to spoil the flower girl's life. In fact I used to imagine these scenarios in which I was accosted by a man somewhat older than my 18 years who would do me harm and I able to convert him to love and peace with my persuasive gospel. I truly wanted to test my belief. I thank the Lord for sparing me, though I had no interest in Him then. Several years later I drove out to my favorite park in Fullerton, California to sit and contemplate whether God existed and came away with a decided no. 

I began to recognize the shakiness of the love and peace ideology when I was expecting my first baby and my husband was away all day. We lived in southern California; he drove the freeway everyday and I found myself fearing something happening to him. Then my son was born. I began to see my love and peace gospel had no foundation and those ideals were easier practiced in abstact than reality. I still championed the posters that glorifed love and peace in different ways, such as gentleness is strength. But the whole hippie thing began to show its true colors as a deceptive and destructive ideoloy. 

Three children later I wanted to relocate eastward, particularly Michigan, but my husband, being from Pennsylvania found employment there. We bought a home far west of Philadelphia. By this time my hippie days were uncomfortable memories, as I had started writing a fictional take on my life as a wanabe hippie in the era of love and peace, divorce and riots, drugs and rallies. I wanted to expose the truth of the hippies and counterculture.

I enrolled in the local college to improve my writing skills and engage in intellectual discourse. The college courses were not what I expected. Instead of reading novels to discuss the author's point of view and methods, we read novels to dissect his use of words. There was little intellectual discourse; and I, being a non-traditional student found that the traditional students cared only about finding out what they needed to know to pass the tests and exams. My writing did improve, though, and one other thing: concern for my children's souls. 

While I was still a staunch disbeliever in God and had been addament that no one should speak of God to my children, I began to consider that while I grew up in a family that didn't go to church, except for Christmas and Easter once in a while, I had benefit of a culture that was yet freely Christian in its thinking. That was not true for my children. It was wrong of me to deprive them of a choice to be Christian. Since someone recommended I try a Quaker Meeting, I took his advice. I knew nothing about Quakers; I just assumed there would be a Sunday School for them and they would learn about God, Jesus, and Christianity. And I would just be there at the church hiding in the back benches until they learned what they had to learn. When that happened we would depart, I having done my duty to them so they could chose for themselves whether to be Christian or disbeliever.

The Lord had something else in mind for me. My children were never really taught anything about Christianity--many of the people of Meeting being more determined than I as a disbeliever not to speak of God. But I sitting on the bench wondering how to pass my time waiting heard the story of Mary Dyer told by someone (I never knew who). Mary Dyer if you don't know was a Quaker woman who with three others died martyrs when they defied Massachusetts laws against Quakers, whom they considered heretics. Mary's story intrigued me. I wanted to know what this religion was that someone would rather die a martyr than be banned from directing people to their inward teacher. When I asked for the particulars of the religion, no one in that Meeting could tell me.

I had absolutely no religion, no knowledge of the Bible, and certainly no idea of God. All the people of Meeting had for me were some books that contemporary Quakers wrote for newcomers. I read these, finding them bereft of substance different from my own worldly views. What I read hardly seemed adequate to martydom. Despite my disappointment I allowed these books to be all there was and went blithely on my way until a seasoned Quaker woman stopped me walking down the aisle.

"Are you a seeker," she asked.

"I found what I was looking for," I said confidently. I don't recall whther we had anymore conversation, but my response to her question dogged me. I don't know whether it was a day or days before the Lord said to me in my disquietude, you're not a true seeker. Oh, I was broken and  shattered. I had never heard the truth spoken to me. It was the Lord in my day of visitation. He knocked on my door and I opened it. Praise be to my Lord forever and ever.

Becoming a Christian doesn't happen overnight. One can't reach the depth and breadth of the Kingdom quickly as newcomers. Too much of this world still drives us, still has its imprint on our brain; even so, we have little if any idea of our pending transformation. It is enough to embrace  the reality of God let alone the magnificence of his Being. This I can say from experience. I was many years in the wilderness, not even realizing that's where I was or cognizant of the Promise Land, to which I would go.

I knew the story of the Hebrews captive in Egypt pertained also to all humankind, for the Lord had opened that to me early on--one of the first of His blessed openings to me. But I was only freed from captivity not iniquity. When my husband divorced me, I was adrift in an ocean of darkness and scared. I kept separating God and my life in the world. I had no Meeting wherein anyone was more than a nominal Christian and they were almost non-existent. But I would go and sit in Meeting alone. The Lord never failed me. People did, but not the Father.

I remember a First Day message I spoke to the Meeting referencing Amnesty International. I declared none of us was free until all persons were free. When I rose to give the message I believed I was speaking from the Holy Spirit but inwardly feeling smug and triumphant in successfully expressing my solidarity with the Meeting. Later, I felt duped from my own conceit and worldly wisdom. At that time I wouldn't have perceived the Lord's reproof; I was unsettle nevertheless. The Lord had not provided me that message connected to peace. I was yet working to cleanse myself of my hippie love and peace conceit.

In fact I have never experienced the Lord opening to me a prohibiton of war, though such a prohibition is now the dominant "Quaker" doctrine. It supercedes, indeed crowds out, all doctrines relating to the Quaker religion. One would not be amiss to say Peace has become the Quaker religion; even more strongly stated, the Quaker God. 

Still, I am torn by the numerous Quaker peace admonitions--formal and informal--from George Fox, to John Woolman, to the disciplines. George Fox especially has influence on me, and John Woolman's spiritual exercises impressed desire to be like him, and the disciplines certainly weigh heavily on me whenever I hear them. Yet I can't bring myself to what the Lord has not opened to me. I understand, particularly George Fox as he is truly a preacher ordained by God, mentally Quaker peace doctrine, but I don't own it. 

When I first began reading the Bible daily and came to Jesus's sermon "blessed are the peacemakers...", I saw that statement as referencing those who point all to Christ and I still do see it that way. I must confess though, as I write, the Lord tendered my heart when I followed the Biblical reference to Ro. 8:14, but, without realizing it until now, was sent by the Lord to verse 8: "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

That brings me to the carnal and spiritual divide, which is where I was headed from the beginning anyway. Paul writes in 2 Cor. 10: 3-6, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."

George Fox writes to Oliver Cromwell, quite early on in his ministry, "...and to turn people from the darkness to the light, and to bring them from the occasion of ...war and from occasion of the magistrates sword, which is a terror to the evil doers who act contrary to the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is a praise to them that do well, a protection to them that do well and not evil. Such soldiers as are put in that place no false accusers must be, no violence must do, but be content with their wages; and the magistrate bears not the sword in vain.

From under the occasion of that sword I do seek to bring people. My weapons are not carnal but spiritual, and 'my kingdom is not of this world', therefore with a carnal weapon I do not fight, but am from those things dead[.]" The Journal of George Fox, J.L.N. p. 197-198

 What I hear both Paul and George Fox saying is that they are not against war. They don't seek to end war as we know it. In fact, they engage in war and happily so because they are doing the Lord's work. They have deadly weapons and use them to defeat the enemy. But man is not the enemy and their weapons are not carnal. Therein lies the difference between God's warfare and  man's warfare that employs not only tangible weapons but also psychological weapons that scar or destroy the mind of man. Which is to say, man's enemy is his fellow human beings.

There are plenty self-righteous persons who claim to own peace yet set their sights on fellow human beings they perceive to be an enemy. Which brings me to the openings I had of the Lord in the year 2016. The first was for me not to quarrel. To quarrel, he said, was to treat the other as lacking. The second was not to be political. To be political is to have an enemy. To be political defys union, particularly union in Christ Jesus. To be political is warfare. You can't claim peace yet be quarrelsome and/or political. The only way to disassociate from these fleshly lusts is through Jesus, who is the Light by which these things can be known.

What then is peace? Is it getting rid of the enemy that threatens life or the validity of dogma? This question pertains especially to those whose weapons are psychological. They tend not to recognize their warfare as evil, so it persists for a longer time. Yet, what is peace if it is not the absence of war?

Peace is the absence of strife. Only in union with Jesus Christ are we raised up to those Kingdom heights where we don't strive to overcome anger, hatred, dislike for brethern. We don't strive because the scales have fallen from our eyes and the light of love shines gloriously overall. Those we would have as enemies become the field to harvest. That harvest is a joy to reap as new souls step into the Kingdom in trembling awe. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanual shall come to you O Israel.

The Harvest is one of only two wars fought by man: carnal warfare and spiritual warfare. Harvesting is spiritual warfare, a wrestling "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." And to engage in spiritual warfare is being "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might" and putting on the whole armour of God. Eph 6: 10,12,13

 To be a soldier is to be a peacemaker if the choice is spiritual warfare. Time spent opposing man's wars prevents the harvest of souls and creates enmity.

Such is not Quaker.

 

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