Reputable Peace

Written by Kimberly Roth : April 15, 2008

tibetThere has been a cry ringing in my heart over the past few weeks, “Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!” I hear it on the television, look at the faces in the newspaper, read the stories on the blogs. “Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!” And I know this much is true.

As a general rule, I am opposed to oppression of any kind. I can sympathize with the protestors around the world crying out against China’s oppression of the Tibetan people. I certainly prefer unanimous vocal outrage and creative interruptions to the alternatives of brute force. The voices ringing out now, the cameras focused on the situation, the stories being documented – this mass outcry against oppression was not around when Europeans were stealing the homeland of the native Americans, or shipping African slaves over to forcibly cultivate that land. “Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!” It is a cry that can not, in good conscience, be ignored.

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

There’s something about the plight of Tibetan Buddhists that tugs at the hearts and souls of people worldwide. The Dalai Lama is a highly regarded spiritual leader, the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion come to serve the Tibetan people. He promotes peace, compassion, non-violence, tolerance and mutual respect, and he appears to live his life in this sphere. It is no wonder people are drawn to him, his religion, his politics and his people.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (NIV)

However, there is a flip-side to Tibetan Buddhism. There is work involved, and peace comes with a price. The Tibetan people serve multiple deities, some of whom are full of vengeance. Their religious practices are in part, to appease the deities en route to obtaining enlightenment. Monks create intricately detailed mandalas to house deities and guide meditation. Followers walk the streets of Tibet endlessly spinning prayer wheels in an effort to gain the attention of the Buddha of Compassion. Tibetans perform physical rituals, such as stopping to bow every few steps, in an effort to relieve personal suffering. Street children, widows and crippled men line the streets

Every person whose heart is moved by love and compassion, who deeply and sincerely acts for the benefit of others without concern for fame, profit, social position, or recognition expresses the activity of Chenrezig. (Bokar Rinpoche)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Tibetans are enslaved in a religion where deities are feared and atonement comes through repetitive actions. “Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!” Followers of Christ, on the other hand, were set free through acceptance of his sacrificial atonement on our behalf and granted the gifts of grace and peace and hope. Tibetans strive for alleviation of suffering. Christians learn to rejoice in their sufferings, or so we are told.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:1-11 (NIV)

Here’s where I get stuck.

Christians have been given the gift of true peace through a relationship with the Son of God. We do not have to do good works to earn our salvation, but through Christ’s sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to love other people with God’s love. When we fail to live up to the standard Christ demonstrated for our life, or when those around us mess up, there is still grace… grace that reminds us we are human… grace that reminds us we are loved… grace that picks us up, dusts us off, and encourages us to keep going. It truly is a wondrous faith.

Why, then, is it that the world is not enamored with faith in Christ?

Why is it that the world seems so taken by Tibetan Buddhism?

Why isn’t Christianity the religion of peace?

In the geopolitical sphere, the United States is the most powerful nation in the world. At 85% reported adherents, we have the largest national Christian population in the world. Yet our global reputation of arrogance greed and selfishness proceeds us. The United States represents herself as a Christian nation, and she is judged accordingly.

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. Ezekiel 16:49 (NIV)

Now, those of us who live in the United States know that many good and giving actions are undertaken by US Americans, and our government, both here and around the world. However, all of these good things are overshadowed in the eyes of many by negative actions and attitudes. We live in the most influential nation in the world, and 85% of us adhere to the teachings of Christ, yet we are unable to live out his principles on a local, national or global level.

“Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!” I’m afraid, my friends, that neither are we. Our commitment to our national culture supersedes our commitment to our faith. We do not live in an oppressed nation. We do not serve an oppressive God. Yet we allow ourselves to complacently exist in a culture that focuses on self and satisfaction of personal desires.

We have to find ways to stop pursuing a cultural faith and start living the way of Christ.

The world is watching and, so far they are unimpressed.

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