Recent events, which I will not specify, are forcing me to rethink my commitment to the primacy of a social, embodied peace. That is, taking my cues from such texts as Ephesians 2:11-22, I had come to see as all-important the “one new humanity created in place of the two”—“the two” being the different groups of humanity which were “hostile” one to another, but now brought into a relationship of “peace” “through the blood of Christ” and “by the cross, by which he put to death their hostility”. It is this same social “peace” which the apostle exhorts must be “maintained” by “every effort”—and so it should be (Eph 4:3).
The problem, of course, is that many cry, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jer 6:11, 8:11; 1 Th 5:3). In the name of “unity”, some counsel the simple “forgetting”, the “putting behind” of offenses committed apart from “every effort” being made to rectify such wrongs. Apart from that rectifying, however, the sting of offense remains to pain the body. And though the body, the social peace, may for a time hide its bruises under clothes, that which is hidden eventually consumes from within. There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed (Mk 4:22; 1 Cor 4:5). We either rectify offenses quickly—though not carelessly—or they will deal with us at the appointed time.
Consequently, before the embodiment of peace comes the doing of justice/righteousness. Before there is the “one body” created by the cross, there is “his body” crucified there. Before there is peace, there is “the division” which he came to bring (Lk 12:51). Before the church, the Christ who fills it (Eph 1:23).
To be sure, the justice which precedes the peace is part and parcel of it—that is, in fact, the point. It is precisely in standing up for the “things that make for peace” (Lk 19:42)—true peace—that division comes. Yet stand up we must—and “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).