Blessed are the peacemakers
for they will be called children of God
Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. Romans 14:1 Msg
I have seen my share of bloggers and political commentators who call themselves Christian, yet
- actively encourage division
- enjoy being combative
- eagerly watch brothers and sisters argue and debate
- relish their own popularity boosted by a cloud of rancor and shouting over their own agenda
- promote and encourage others to make condescending, degrading comments, then distance themselves by refusing to take responsibility for their own part
They are not peacemakers.
A peacemaker provides grace, mercy, love, sincerity, encouragement, acceptance, humility and a safe place.
“A “safe place” or “oasis” is a refuge from the criticisms, performance requirements and the disconnectedness and rejection in relationships that we often find in the world we live in. It’s a place where people are free to be who they really are without judgment. A place where they are unconditionally loved and accepted. It’s a place where your name is safe on people’s lips.” Mel Wild, In My Father’s House
Some of us even take issue with Bible versions. Some say the King James version is outdated and incorrect; others say it’s the only version they read. Some say The Message is over the top and a perversion of God’s Word; others say it helps make the Word of God understandable and draws people toward God. (This, by the way, is why I used both versions here.)
Publicly known Christian leaders denounce other Christian leaders for their approach to the gospel: from Joel Osteen to Rob Bell to John Piper to Brett McCracken to Bradlee Dean to Pat Robertson.
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. Ephesians 2:14 NLT
No one said being a peacemaker was easy. Our natural inclination is to feel offended, spout off, draw battle lines and choose up sides.
As Christians, when we enter into public discourse and pepper our conversations with labels of groups – Christian, Jew, Muslim, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, homosexual, straight, liberal, conservative, fundamentalist, anti-choice, pro-abortion – our salt has already lost its flavor.
These public conversations, while sounding righteously passionate, are condescending, undignified, and lukewarm. In our erroneous desire to judge, we chase believers and unbelievers away from God. (Romans 2:24, Isaiah 5:25, Ezekiel 36:22). We have already been warned we are to give no cause for offense in anything, so that the gospel will not be discredited (2 Corinthians 6:3), yet we continue to offend, using His name to justify our own agendas.
We must remember, as peacemakers, as followers of Christ, there are human beings within these labeled groups that deserve our individual love, grace and mercy. Each person deserves a private, safe, loving, gentle, dignified, humble and peaceable conversation with someone who seeks to offer God’s open hand.
We must get back to the basics of grace. Being a peacemaker takes exponentially more sophistication and circumspection than simply being “nice.” It’s undeniably more courageous than drawing a line in the sand. To be a peacemaker, we must admit we are incompetent at it, and turn to the Master Peacemaker for the answers.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18 (NLT)
When we forget to be peacemakers and fall into judgment, we are only able to judge as fallible humans. We do not judge as God judges. God’s judgment is based on truth, and tempered with kindness, mercy and patience which leads toward repentance. (Romans 2:4) Our judgment is filled with accusation. It separates people from God.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 (KJV)
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6 (NASB)
Next Week: Missional Living