You know that image of US President Richard Nixon stepping off the presidential helicopter flashing peace signs with both hands? It’s a classic moment in US history, as Nixon had recently been on a diplomacy trip to China, an extremely rare feat for presidents before and after. It was quite a successful trip, and upon arriving home a photographer snapped the photo of a triumphant Nixon. What I have learned since, however, is that Nixon often flashed the double-V peace sign, raising his arms in the shape of a V, using his hands to make two more Vs.
You and I are more accustomed to people making a single V sign as way to communicate, “Peace.” For Nixon, it was much more likely that he meant the sign to say, “Victory!” Sadly, for Nixon, and for the United States, his victory led to the opposite of peace. After being caught cheating the rules of the election, he was impeached and resigned in August 1974. Better known as the Watergate scandal, named after the hotel where the illegal activity occurred, Nixon’s legacy is one of turmoil. In fact, stemming from Nixon’s “original sin,” the word “gate” is now tacked onto scandals of all kinds. When NFL quarterback Tom Brady used slightly deflated footballs, which was against league rules, we called it “Deflategate.” Wikipedia has a page dedicated to the hundreds of other “Gate” scandals in sports, politics and culture. The “Gates” scandals are a reminder that so often our world lacks peace.
What is peace? And how do we grow peace amid the scandals, anxieties, pressures and frustrations of the world. Jesus once said to his disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I love that, but I also have to admit that there are plenty of times when I still don’t feel peace. We Christians say things like, “I can’t imagine not having a relationship with Jesus. I don’t know how people who aren’t Christians get through the hard times in life.” And yet, if we’re honest, we Christians can really struggle with a lack of peace sometimes.
In our continuing series on the Fruit of the Spirit, we are learning to walk in step with the Spirit, which means growing the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We’ve learned about growing love and joy, and this coming week we’ll study what it means to grow peace.