Following the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, many people may wonder what they just witnessed. Beyond the various competitions, exciting finishes, and impressive performances from athletes across the globe, many people are not sure what to make of the attempts to portray unity between North and South Korea.
Perceptions of Peace
In this article, which originally appeared at Athletes in Action, Amethyst Holmes helps us think through the perceptions of peace portrayed in the media:
In an astounding move of collaboration, North and South Korea agreed to have their athletes march under the same flag during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. For the first time, Olympians from both countries will also form a joint women’s hockey team. After years of disengagement and broken communications between these two regional foes, this peacemaking gesture could spur on peace talks around tension-filled topics including North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Some aren’t optimistic that this diplomatic chess move will help improve relations outside the realm of sport and fear it is little more than a political stunt full of underlying agendas with no intentions to move toward genuine harmony or demilitarization.
Uniting under one flag only provides the perception of peace with no intention of true peacemaking as the ultimate result. What’s the value of this conciliatory effort? If this short-term truce doesn’t have ripple effects that influence amicable relations throughout the land, is this act of reconciliation just that? An act? As Ed Uszynski mentions in his essay on Olympic ceremonies, True peace isn’t brought about by people trying to get along under their national banners. Instead, it is established and anchored in the person and work of Christ himself. It is established both in His forgiving of our sins and His final dominion over the universe.
The Truth of Peace
The truth is that we’ll have to wait and see what comes of this sporting alliance between the Koreas. Only time will tell if it leads to any harmonious breakthroughs or if a stalemate resumes after the Olympics. In the meantime, a message for believers to take from this peacemaking effort is to always check your motive (Romans 14:19).
What illusions about our lives are we presenting to the world and want others to believe? Are we peacemakers in public and peace-deficient in private and are we Christlike for show? Are we people quick to seek understanding and harmony? When all eyes are on us and we’re slow to pray about the friction in our own homes? Are we even genuine?
Another way of putting it would be to make sure your video matches your audio. Make sure your walk matches your talk. As believers, it’s important to truly seek God’s peace on Monday through Saturday and not just on Sunday morning. It’s a good reminder to ask ourselves if we’re living faithfully or fraudulently in all areas of our lives.
Take off the mask. Allow God to reconcile every broken thing and not just things on the surface (Colossians 3:15). The world needs the true peace that Christ provides. The One who is able to restore broken things in all the areas of our lives. The One who’s able to bring peace where we can find very little.