Nelson Mandela: Peace wager

Today, let us remember Nelson Mandela and wage peace in his honor.

By Alan Rudnick

As the world reacts to the death of Nelson Mandela, we cannot help but read and understand his amazing history of peace. Fighting against injustice and apartheid in South Africa were his notable achievements, but Mandela did so much more.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for fighting for his beliefs and for justice. Emerging from oppressive imprisonment, Mandela spoke about peace, reconciliation and forgiveness. How does someone emerge from such hate, injustice and pain to talk about reconciliation? He became a symbol of truth, reconciliation, grace and peace.

Many talk about peace, but few understand what it takes. It's easy to speak about peace, but if one truly wants to achieve peace, one must "wage peace." Nelson Mandela died in the midst of Advent, the precursor to Christmas. The story of Christmas is the story of God waging peace with the world. Making peace is not an easy business. Mandela was a peace-wager.

Peace amid tragedy is challenging. Mandela was one who could find peace in tragedy.

The message of Christmas is this: Christ was born to all the world for the redemption of the world. However, as Christians, we often believe that peace is something to pray for but never accomplished. It is common for Christians to think that peace is to be prayed for and never acted on.

Jesus said, “Blessed on the peace makers, for they will be called the children of God.” Jesus was not being vague, but specific.

As we reflect upon Nelson Mandela's legacy and a world of injustice, we Christians cannot sit around on our hands. We must wage peace. Just as war is waged, peace must be waged. Praying for peace is one thing, but waging peace is another.  Peace must be waged on a daily basis.

I learned about waging peace firsthand. One year ago, I walked around a farm in Israel for half a day and learned more about waging peace than most learn in a lifetime.

I visited the Tent of Nations, a farm that brings people together to live and work on land that is disputed. Daoud Nassar is the owner of the disputed land and is a born-again Christian. His grandfather obtained deeds from Ottomans, British and Israelis. However, the Israeli government is saying it is public land. After years of proving that his land belongs to him, the Israeli government and military harass his family. Israeli settlers cut 800 olive trees. At a time when many Christians are fleeing Israel, Daoud chooses to stay.

I've never met Mandela or visited South Africa, but I've met people who wage peace, such as Daoud Nassar. Nelson Mandela is an example of waging peace for places like Israel, North Korea, Egypt, Iran and Northern Africa. Today, let us remember Nelson Mandela and wage peace in his honor.

Find your own place where peace-waging is needed. Act and wage peace in your part of the world.

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.