The Peace of Zambia

Wow! Did you hear that? “Zambia cannot be described as peaceful because many people are failing to afford meals while others cannot find employment.” This was said by President Michael Sata yesterday at a thanksgiving service organized by the three mother church bodies. President Sata stated that he will be failing in his duties as republican President if expectant mothers continue dying due to lack of access to maternity treatment, or if children continue dying of diseases like measles. Mr Sata is inviting the church to give a definition of peace.

In the last few weeks the buzz has been about Zambia’s “peaceful elections”. Even that was challenged by President Sata when he shared how the elections would have been rigged if not for individuals working hard throughout the election period counting votes to ensure that justice prevailed. The fact that citizens did not have trust in the Electoral Commission to deliver a fair and just election process demonstrates that the elections were not free and fair.

However, we must be thankful to God for the restraint that was exercised by the majority of Zambians in not taking to violence during the period of uncertainty. The men and women who organized the thanksgiving service must be commended for bringing Zambians together to confess that God is sovereign over the affairs of our nation.

What “peace” were we thanking Him for? The absence of civil disturbances and hostilities? If yes, then we should not be using the word “peace.” The biblical concept of peace is more than just the absence of evil or freedom from internal and external strife. Peace in the bible means to be complete, perfect, and sound. Biblical peace conveys wholeness of life and health, right relationship and harmony between two parties or people. Biblical peace is often established by a covenant. Lev. 26:3-9 expresses the peace of God beautifully, “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season… I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.”

Compared to other nations it would be easy to believe that Zambia has peace. Our prophets must not compare Zambia with other nations and on the basis of our relatively civil and just elections declare the peace of Zambia. In the Old Testament it was the false prophets who proclaimed “peace, peace” when Jerusalem was full of oppression, corruption, plunder and violence (Jer.6:14). True prophets argue that there is no peace apart from the righteousness and justice of God. True prophets declare that peace cannot be achieved until people accept His invitation of confession and repentance and demonstrate their faith through love of God and neighbor.

As a church, we need to reflect on what President Sata said about peace. If we settle for a Zambia free from disturbances and hostilities we may be found to be false preachers who declare “peace, peace” without considering God’s standard of Shalom. As we thank God for the absence of violence during the election period let us pray that he gives us courage to pursue His peace.

Lawrence Temfwe