Thursday, September 04, 2014

Making Peace?

Peace …. Living It and Making It

The last few weeks have been filled with conflict between religions, ideologies, and races. Hot spots around the world abound! In fact, it's depressing to turn on the news.

Conflicts like these aren't new. We have all experienced these kind of tensions before. That must be why God warned us that there would always be trouble in this world. Regardless of that warning, He calls us to live at peace with others and even to make peace!

After living through the 60's, I remember my years in high school and college as being very tumultuous. We had race riots and turmoil in the Mideast. We had campus shootings, war protests, and assassinations.

The idea of a “peacemaker” brings different images to my mind. I think of the peace symbol from the 60’s. We saw the hippies of our generation with signs that said, "Make Love, Not War." Others may think of the two-fingers-raised-in-a-V sign, politicians, an olive branch, a dove, or even a gun.

God didn't say "keep the peace." “Keeping the peace” is different than “living at peace” with others. "Keeping the peace" usually means someone is avoiding conflict at all costs, rather than trying to resolve the conflict. [A future blog will expand on that idea, especially in marriage.]

In Romans, God tells me to live at peace with others if it is possible.* In other words, God is telling me to do my part to live at peace. "Living at peace" doesn't mean that I leave the relationship to be able to live at peace. I remember a man telling me that he was going to divorce his wife because he couldn't live at peace with her. That solution only shifts the problem; it doesn't resolve anything.

Some people are not willing to live at peace with us. They continue to cause conflict, for a multitude of reasons. Usually, they are hurt, so they cause hurt to others.

For my part, I don’t have to take the bait and get involved in attacking back.

To live in peace, I must take a look at my own life and see if there is something that God wants to change.

To live at peace means that I am not holding anything against anyone. It means that I forgive the hurt. I don’t pursue revenge or “pay backs” or trying to make them hurt in the same way they hurt me.

Only after I have looked at my own life, do I seek to address the situation with someone else. In all that I do, I seek to glorify God with my words and my actions.

God calls us to go beyond “living at peace” to “making peace.” Making peace would certainly include making peace with others personally.

Making peace looks for ways to make peace with the people I encounter every day and to even facilitate peace between people. [More on the process of peacemaking in the next post.]

The goal of peace making is reconciliation. The person may need to make peace with God or peace with himself or peace with others. God calls us to a ministry of reconciliation - peace making.

When people can reconcile on a personal level, they are much better at reconciling with people of other races, religions, and nationalities.

Blessed are the Peacemakers …. 

The followers of Jesus have been called to peace. When He called them they found their peace, for He is their peace. But now they are told that they must not only have peace but make it.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

*If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
 Romans 12:18

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 
Matthew 5:9

We can be peacemakers because Christ made peace with us through His death.

...through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:20

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
 Romans 14:19

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:17-18

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 
 Ephesians 4:3

Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 
2 Corinthians 13:11