There are different periods of history that are very interesting to me. It’s interesting to think about what it would be like to settle a colony or explore a new continent. When America expanded west, there was so much new to be seen! Talk about an adventure! It would have certainly been dangerous and scary at times. There were many threats and problems experienced. Not only did settlers worry about Native Americans and wild animals, but they also had to worry about what they were going to eat and where they would find clean water! If these challenges didn’t cause enough stress, they also had to deal with bad people. This is where “the peacemaker” came in handy. “The peacemaker,” was the nickname given to the most popular 6-shooter of the time period. When people were looking to cause trouble the peacemakers would be ready to reach for their “peacemaker” to resolve the conflict and bring back peace.
Jesus has called His people to be peacemakers. In the Wild West people might make peace by threatening to escalate conflict, but this is not the way Jesus wants us to arrive at peace. Jesus wants us to be peaceable people by being at peace with others while also helping others arrive at peaceful resolutions as well.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”Matthew 5:9 (ESV)
Peacemakers have Personal Peace:
As we know we are all going to experience conflict in one way or another. It’s simply unavoidable, and that’s okay. However, when we experience conflict, we must pursue peace. There are different reasons conflict might arise in our lives the main two I can think of are differing opinions and mean people. Romans 12:16-21 helps us see how God expects us to keep peace, in these difficult situations.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:16-21 (ESV)
Keeping Peace when We Disagree:
If we are going to be peacemakers, we need a large helping of humility. Romans 12:16 helps us see why this is important for living in harmony with others. God tells us to not be wise in our own site and not to be haughty, or arrogant, in other words, God wants us to be careful how we view ourselves. Let’s face it, sometimes we need reminding that the world doesn’t revolve around us. Often times, we think very highly of ourselves and this makes it difficult when we face people who have different opinions than us.
The temptation is to argue about how our opinion is the correct opinion, but God calls us to be humble. This means we must be willing listen to the opinions of others without forcing our opinion or feeling like we must defend our opinion to the death. Sometimes we should just keep our opinion to ourselves, because too often, we get enraged over something that doesn’t actually matter. Peacemakers remember what is truly important and pursue peace by being humble enough to listen to the opinions of others and only sharing their opinion when appropriate.
Keeping Peace when People are mean:
It is hard to keep the peace when people are mean to us. The easy thing to do is to escalate the conflict, through retaliating back at the mean person. But this isn’t what Christ wants us to do. This is not what peacemakers do, this is what mean people do.
Peacemakers Do nothing:
We don’t want to be mean people, rather we want to be Christ’s people. Yet, almost reflexively we respond with something mean. Our response comes out automatically and then we are in a verbal show down, fighting with our words. And yet, if we hadn’t responded meanly, we would be at peace. This is difficult, but sometimes the best way to pursue peace is to do nothing at all. This is certainly what God suggest, in Romans 12:17 where Paul writes do not repay evil for evil! When we respond to evil with evil we are not striving for peace.
Peacemakers Trust God:
If we can ignore a mean word, even if it hurts, we avoid making things worse. When we react to someone’s hurtful actions, we add fuel to the fire of conflict and the conflict grows bigger and bigger. Often times, when it comes to conflict resolution it is best to walk away. This isn’t easy but we have to remember it is not our job to get justice. Comic books and movies are filled with vigilantes taking the law into their own hands to stop dangerous criminals. This makes for great entertainment but in reality, they’re doing a job they don’t have the authority to do. The government has put police stations in charge of catching criminals not vigilantes. So, it is with us, God has not given us the authority to take revenge when someone has done us wrong. This is why God says, “revenge is mine!” Only God has the authority to handle mean people.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”Romans 12:19 (ESV)
Peacemakers Do Good:
Certainly it isn’t easy to remember that God is the one who gets to punish people, even when they have hurt us directly. Especially when retaliating seems so easy and natural. Yet, what we really need to do is the opposite of what we want to do so naturally. We need to respond with kindness. Romans 12:20 teaches us this principle, and while it is not the most natural response it does resolve the conflict.
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”Romans 12:20 (ESV)
Responding with kindness resolves conflict because it doesn’t add any fuel to fire. Actually, it removes fuel from the fire. When we are nice to someone who has just been mean to us, that it will become harder for that person to continue to be mean to us. In being kind in the face of meanness we show others the love of Christ which transforms who we are. Romans 12:21 really helps summarize how we are going to strive to keep peace. Peacemakers overcome evil with good.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:21 (ESV)
Peacemakers Keep Peace No Matter What
Jesus expects His people to be peacemakers, this means we have to use humility when around others with a different opinion than us. It also means we must be willing to overlook insults and instead of responding with insults, we respond in love and kindness. We certainly won’t be able to be at peace with everyone, but we must work hard to be at peace with most.
In other words, we need to do everything we can to be at peace with everyone in our lives. As peacemakers our goal is to have zero enemies, this doesn’t mean that we are best friends with everyone. It just means we do everything we can to be friendly with everyone. However, we can only control our own actions, some might refuse to be peaceable toward us. Even so, as peacemakers we need to be friendly and peaceable toward all.
Peacemakers are Encouragers of Peace:
Not only do we need to seek peace with all people in our personal lives but we also need to help one another find peace. Let’s face it, we have all heard the chant, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” either in the school cafeteria, gym, or in the hallway. Two people get into a fight and students circle around to encourage the two people to fight. As peacemakers, we should never be in the circle screaming fight. Instead we should be encouragers of peace.
Sometimes our friends come to us and describe a conflict in their life. When this happens, we are blessed with an opportunity to encourage peace. As peacemakers, we need to remind our friends of the importance of peace and encourage them to resolve the conflict. This can sometimes mean encouraging two friends to overlook their differences in opinion. Sometimes this means encouraging a friend not to say anything offensive back to the mean person who spoke rudely to them. And sometimes it means standing up for someone who is being bullied. In any and every situation, we must encourage other people in our lives to seek peace, just as we are seeking peace.
God of Peace expects Children of Peace:
When we live as peacemakers, we are imitating God, just like a child imitates his father. God is forever the greatest peacemaker because He made it possible for us to have peace with Him. We could never have made peace with God on our own, it was only possible through Jesus’ redeeming death on the cross. This is why God is the greatest peacemaker and this is why peacemakers will be called sons of God, because when we make peace with others, we are imitating our heavenly father.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”Matthew 5:9
Questions for Thought and Discussion:
- When is it hardest to seek peace instead of conflict?
What are some matters of opinion that people arguable about too often?
- How can you avoid conflicts over differing opinions?
- What does Ephesians 4:26 help us understand concerning peace?
- Does Matthew 5:23-24 help us see how serious God takes resolving conflict?