Blame and Peace

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  August 23, 2014

            An unarmed man is killed by police, angry residents erupt in protests, police move in with military-like force to restore order, and the violence escalates. Residents blame police brutality and the law blames unruly residents. The community is shattered and bitter factions become entrenched in their definitive positions of embattled defense and response.
            Russian separatists in Crimea revolt against the Ukrainian government. Political entities from Moscow to Washington DC angrily blame each other for undermining the rule of law and sovereign right to self-determination. As the machines of war are employed to restore peace, innocent air travelers are blown out of the sky and humanitarian aid is scrutinized out of fear, mistrust, of potential deceit and treachery.
Hamas blames unrelenting Israeli oppression and lobs indiscriminate rockets into Israel. Israel blames unwarranted Palestinian aggression and launches military violence into Gaza. Negotiations fail as ferociously embedded hatred festers into dehumanizing intolerance. 
            Unions blame corporate greed and fight for higher wages while corporations blame union arrogance for eroding necessary profits. Welfare recipients blame economic inequality for dependence on the system and those not receiving benefits blame personal laziness and inadequate moral standards for dependence on the system. The Republicans blame the Democrats for being too liberal while the Democrats blame the Republicans for being too conservative. Christians, when facing the challenges of vital ministry in the modern world, blame everything from Satan to changing morals, shifting cultural standards, and eroding biblical literacy for making the ministry of Jesus Christ increasingly difficult today.
            When it comes to facing the truly volatile and destructive forces facing our world today, there certainly is a lot of blame to go around. Yet, blame as we may, blaming remains a very destructive sin. It is nothing new. Blame is one of the oldest sins in humanity. When confronted by God in the Garden of Eden, Adam blamed Eve, who then blamed the serpent. Blaming, however, changed nothing in the Garden at the dawn of Creation. The first children of Creation proved to be no better and the pattern continued.
There is no escaping the fact that the very real problems and catastrophic conflicts facing humanity are the result of people making very sinful, violent, immoral, and disastrous choices. From the streets of Ferguson to the villages of Gaza, from the welfare lines in America to the battle lines in Crimea, there is unrelenting sin that must be stopped.
Yet for a genuine and authentic call for just and sustainable peace to be restored, the first thing that must end is the finger-pointing of blame. As with Adam and Eve, when the people of God are willing to cast the finger of blame on other people, forces, entities, and powers without taking the time to understand how our own actions—or inactions, beliefs, attitudes, and positions—have contributed to the situation, the violence will only continue and escalate.
Jesus called for blessing upon the peacemakers (Matt 5:9) and condemned the use of violence as a solution to conflict (Matt 26:52). James calls people of faith to let understanding, listening, and compassion guide our actions (1:19) and the author of Ephesians calls for Christians to live in unity forged in the love and peace that comes only from Christ (4:1-6). As mistrust breeds fear, which fuels violence, and human lives are destroyed in the name of casting blame, those who call on Christ must stand for genuine peace and true justice.