This morning while I had my coffee I read an article in the latest Time magazine entitled "Six Keys To Peace," written by Michael Elliott. The article is in reference to the Middle East and the conflict that is going on there. I was immediately struck by something he said near the beginning: "Year after year, decade after decade, a region that is sacred to three religions and the home of sublime landscapes--yet drenched in blood and covered in the dust of bombed-out rubble--brings those who live in more comfortable neighborhoods back to its old quarrels." How sad, but how true. The Middle East is a region of the world in turmoil. There are no easy solutions, in fact, I am convinced there is no political solution that will bring lasting peace to the land.
In many ways, the Middle East is a picture of the world at large. A world in rebellion against God. The amazing thing is that peace and prosperity exist anywhere in the world. This is a world slated for judgment and the outpouring of God's wrath against human beings who have chosen to go their own way and live according to their own rules. The apostle Paul writes of humanity: "There is no one righteous; not even one, there is no who who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:10-18). People today find this assessment offensive, but it is hard to deny its accuracy.
The picture on the front cover of Time (Canadian Edition - July 31, 2006) shows a bombed-out neighborhood and the headline reads: The Way Out... of This Mess. The Six Keys to Peace in the Middle East. As astute and balanced as Michael Elliot tries to be, he has forgotten the only real key and that is Jesus Christ himself who was violently executed by human beings in that part of the world two millennia ago. Only the Prince of Peace can bring men and women together in himself. Only his life, death and resurrection can make new creations out of old sinners. All Christians should pray that God will be merciful and that he will bring something good out of the tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes. Ancient hatreds and hostilities will never be atoned for unless we all come to the cross of Christ and their find grace and mercy which transforms everything.