Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Peacemakers, not Peacekeepers

I am a follower of Jesus because his life matched his message. I have been impressed with charismatic leaders who can capture a crowd with speeches and promises only to find his life is nothing like his message. Jesus lived everything he taught...even his promise he came to "give up his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

Jesus stepped out of obscurity into the messianic limelight and taught, "Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9) What is it about being a peacemaker that gains someone such a title or reputation? Follow Jesus and find out. To gain the reputation as a child of God, you need to know these things about who Jesus blessed that day.



Peacemaking is not the same as peacekeeping. Jesus did not walk into hostile situations or broken relationships and ask, "Why can't we all just get along?" and broker so-called peace. Nor, did he avoid century-old prejudices by walking around a neighborhood of a different racial group, but he walked among them and stayed with one of the families! Jesus addressed the heart of the matter--prejudice, greed, hypocrisy, evil spirits--and then called the perpetrator and victim to change his or her ways based on God's love, not what they had learned from others. That is peace making.

Peace is not the lack of conflict, according to Jesus. Jesus was NOT God's one-man NATO army sent to earth to separate waring parties and cease conflict until the Grand Negotiator parcels out the leftover pieces in the end.

Jesus said he did not come to bring the lack-of-conflict kind of peace. (Matthew 10:34) He came with a sword; a sword of truth and love that cuts to our hearts and the heart of the conflict, and he refused to be satisfied simply because the fighting ended. Jesus gave us his peace, but he did not give it to us "as the world gives" it. (John 14:27) Jesus did not give a peace like the Romans gave the Jewish people in the first century. There was little open conflict going on between the occupying army and the indigenous people. But, there was no peace.

Jesus gives us a peace that is birthed out of sacrificial, suffering, truth-honoring, love toward the one who hurts us. A co-dependent spouse who placates the tirades of a raging partner is not a peacemaker by groveling at the feet of her abuser. A leader who sends in the army to stop the looting stops the conflict for a while but until the hearts of those fighting are addressed there will be no peace.

Jesus calls his followers to demonstrate the same sacrificial, suffering, truth-honoring love toward those who war with us so we may be his peacemakers and be called the children of God. This may cost us our lives as it did Jesus, but eternal-not temporary-peace will be the result.

Read the events of Holy Week from the Gospels, and you will see how Jesus brought peace to the hearts of people. You will also see the horrible conflict created and endured to bring about God's peace that can change the hearts of us all. Blessed is the Peacemaker!

1 comment:

Tammy said...

This has been a hard lesson for me. As a person who has bowed to the idols of harmony and comfort, I was a peacekeeper at all costs. But here's the part where the enemy sneaks in and steals God's best for you and why God's Truth is His way of loving us in our best interest. The enemy will make you think that if you just keep the peace, give in, acquiesce to an unhealthy relationship the conflict will go away and all will be back to normal. The enemy will also deceive by making you think that giving in to an unhealthy person is an act of love and sacrifice. Or that to respond from a position of God's Truth which is pretty much never received well by an unhealthy person and will often lead to more conflict, is wrong because people who look like Jesus wouldn't do such things. Nothing is further from the Truth. Look at how Jesus always confronted those who were far from God or lived in ways that were contrary to God's ways. It never looked pretty but it's the ultimate act of love to be willing, for the sake that the unhealthy person might be saved and rescued by the grace of God, to endure their ire, their pushback, to create consequences so that maybe they will see and know God's ways, His Truth and His best. You never want to put yourself physically at risk of course and you always want to surround yourself with a healthy support system of Christ followers, but peacekeeping is a ploy of the enemy that will only leave you with anything but peace.