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8 Songs of peace in a time of turmoil

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal | YouTube | Fair Use

Matthew Becklo - published on 01/16/21

The New Testament is not only clear but emphatic: Christians are called to be a people of peace. 

As the United States continues its spiral into division, rancor, and violence, facing an uncertain week ahead, Christians have a unique challenge and opportunity: to be channels and witnesses of peace. Not a worldly peace of mere restraint or coexistence, or a quietist peace that refuses to fight for truth and justice, but true peace: the reconciliation Christ established “through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20) and the unrelenting yet nonviolent love that God poured out for the whole world through his Son.

Is living out this peace an imperative of the Gospel? It seems that more and more Christians, on both sides of the ideological divide, believe that it isn’t. After all, they say, didn’t Jesus flip over tables and chase the moneychangers with a whip of chords? Didn’t he say he did not come to bring peace but a sword? Didn’t he speak hard truths to the Pharisees?

The problem, of course, is that Jesus acted and spoke as God, and we do not—and the Lord instructed us, his disciples, in the way of peace. He did not say “Blessed are the table-flippers,” but “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9). He did not say “A sword I leave with you,” but “Peace I leave with you” (John 14:27). And he did not say “Speak hard truths to each other,” but “Be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50).

In fact, in the rest of the New Testament, the word “peace” appears no less than seventy times. For example, Paul writes: “Pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19); “God is a God not of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33); “live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11); “[live] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3); “shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (2 Tim. 2:2). In Galatians, he names peace as one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), while the “works of the flesh” include “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy” (20–21). The author of Hebrews exhorts: “Pursue peace with everyone” (Heb. 12:14). James writes: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace” (James 3:17–18).

The New Testament is not only clear but emphatic: Christians are called to be a people of peace.

In that spirit, here are eight songs—all written and sung by believers—to inspire Christians to walk the way of peace in the days and weeks to come.

1. The Porter’s Gate, “Instrument of Peace”

2. Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, “Brother”

3. Josh Garrels, “O Day of Peace”

4. The Blind Boys of Alabama, “There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated at the Conference Table)”

5. Stu Garrard feat. The Brilliance, “Makers of the Peace (View from the Shepherd’s Field)”

6. Bill Fay, “Be at Peace With Yourself”

7. Marvin Gaye, “God Is Love”

8. Friar Alessandro, “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”

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