Faith mat­ters

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE ED­I­TOR, Sir: FOR A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the govern­ment will rest on His shoul­ders;

And His name will be called Won­der­ful, Coun­sel­lor, Mighty God,

Eter­nal Fa­ther, Prince of Peace.” (Isa­iah 9:6)

In a re­cent CNN dis­cus­sion, Fa­reed Zakaria made a very in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tion. He noted that the his­toric peace deal signed in Colom­bia meant that the en­tire West­ern Hemi­sphere was now free of ma­jor armed con­flict. The deal was re­jected by ref­er­en­dum, but the Colom­bian govern­ment and rebels con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate.

The story, how­ever, is quite com­pelling. This is a re­gion that only 50 years ago was rav­aged by civil wars and armed con­flict of vary­ing pro­por­tions. Even though high crime rates are still prob­lems in many of th­ese coun­tries, the fact that the gov­ern­ments have all been able to win and/or ne­go­ti­ate peace in the en­tire West­ern Hemi­sphere is quite an ac­com­plish­ment.

Also in­ter­est­ing is the fact that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of th­ese coun­tries are led by pres­i­dents or prime min­is­ters who ac­claim their be­liefs in the Bi­ble, ei­ther in the form of Protes­tantism or Ro­man Catholi­cism.

This may be all a co­in­ci­dence, of course, but the same can­not be said of the gov­ern­ments of the hemi­sphere that are em­broiled in var­i­ous armed con­flicts and wars.

The He­brew word for peace, shalom, is often used in ref­er­ence to an ap­pear­ance of calm and tran­quil­ity of in­di­vid­u­als, groups, and na­tions. How­ever, bi­b­li­cal schol­ars will tell us that the deeper, more foun­da­tional mean­ing of peace is “the spir­i­tual har­mony brought about by an in­di­vid­ual’s restora­tion with God”.

This means that even in the midst of try­ing times and per­sonal tur­bu­lence, it is still pos­si­ble to find peace in one’s re­la­tion­ship with God.

I believe also that this can trans­late to peace be­tween neigh­bours, towns, re­gions and coun­tries.

Religion should never be used as a tool of war. In­stead, it can be used a ba­sis for peace, and if there is any con­nec­tion at all be­tween the lack of wars in the West­ern Hemi­sphere and the fact that the lead­ers are fol­low­ers in faith of the Bi­ble, this should be em­u­lated. I believe that faith does, in­deed, mat­ter. JON READER jon­nreader@gmail.com

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