Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Know Peace, Sell Peace

You know those bumper stickers that say "No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace"? That's what we in the biz call a homonym substitution--sounds the same but changes the meaning. Jesus sells bumper stickers; he also makes for an unusual means to an end: if you want peace, you're gonna need some Jesus to get it. Peace is a commodity for which Jesus is fairly traded.

I know peace is a commodity because of this:


That's right: buy peace, and you get more peace for free. That's like two peaces for the price of one. I found this graphic at the Hunger Site, one of my favorite places online, where advertisers will donate food for global distribution if you simply click on a tab. The poor get food, and you get the opportunity to buy peace.

I'm all for peace, and I respect the creators of the Hunger Site, but I found this ad a bit garish. If you look closely at the vinyl lunch bag and the travel mug you'll see the word cultivate in tiny, white letters above the big, all-caps word peace. "Cultivate Peace" is the tagline of the Hunger Site, and if you're going to be branded with something, that's as good a brand as any. But to be appealing to me peace needs a destination: peace with God, peace in the family, peace on earth and goodwill toward men. And women.

In those scenarios, peace is less the end and more the means. The end is relational--God and God's creation gets the peace we have to offer, and we get relationships with the parties of the second part.

Jesus, I suppose, was an advocate of peace. But he's a more passionate advocate of redeemed relationships. He advises us to "use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." Buy peace, he might say, but give it all away for love, which lasts forever.

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