|The dam on "our" lake|
Around noon on Friday, I went for a walk in our neighborhood and ended up at the lake near home. As I sat there staring at the stillness of the view before me, I became aware of how peaceful it was – the cloudless blue sky, the reflections mirrored in the water, the occasional chirping of birds, the gentle wind rustling the grass, the absence of school children excitedly chatting as they rushed home for lunch (must have been an in-service day) – even the roar of water cascading over the dam seemed somehow calm and soothing as it continued gurgling down the stream below. I felt God’s peace wash over my whole being as I pondered again the verse I’ve been mulling over in my mind all week…
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.[i]
A lot of time we think about how important it is to “keep the peace”. We go to great lengths to try and keep everyone happy, to keep our children from squabbling with one another, to maintain order in our classrooms and schools, to keep student riots from becoming violent and out-of-control, to keep peaceful trade and political relations between our nations, to keep opposing team members on the sports field or ice hockey rink from punching each other out, to keep from saying or doing something that might anger someone close to us, to keep a board meeting from becoming an egotistical power game, or to keep volatile areas of our world from erupting into terrorism or war.
Indeed, we are admonished as Christian believers to “be at peace with each other”[ii], “live at peace with everyone”[iii] and “be peaceable and considerate”[iv]. Keeping peace with our fellow man and being a person of peace is not always easy especially when others intentionally attempt to provoke a negative response in us. It’s also difficult to be peaceable when some people annoy us, insult us, hurt us, or take advantage of our goodness and generosity.
|My peaceful backyard "oasis"|
Keeping peace is hard enough. But I believe Christ calls us to go a step beyond “peacekeeping” and be “peacemakers”. To me, this implies a more deliberate action that will actually initiate peace between two or more parties. We are not only to maintain peace that has already been established, but make a way for peace where none exists. That takes courage, determination, ingenuity, perseverance, and passion to a higher level. I like the way the New Living Translation phrases this verse, “God blesses those who work for peace…”
In James 3:18, the brother of Jesus wrote, “Those who make peace should plant peace like a seed. If they do, it will produce a crop of right living.” (NIRV) The writer of Hebrews said, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men…”[v] Paul encourages us to “…do all we can to live in peace” (NIRV)[vi] and to “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” (NLT)[vii] The apostle Peter warned us to “seek peace and pursue it.”[viii]
Jesus Christ, Himself, is the ultimate example of being a peacemaker. “His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in the one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross.”[ix] This refers to His true desire to see all Jews and Gentiles united into one faith in Christ as the promised Messiah and Saviour. His effort to make peace required the sacrifice of His own life – would I be willing to go that far to make peace? This is further explained in Colossians 1:19-20, “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him (Christ), and through Him (Christ), to reconcile to Himself all things…by making peace through His (Christ’s) blood, shed on the cross.”
This has challenged me to consider - what am I actively doing to make peace or am I more focused on just keeping the peace? What am I willing to risk to bring reconciliation where it is within my realm of power or influence to do so? I’m praying God will open my eyes to possible situations where I might bring about a “harvest of righteousness” as I seek to make peace.
Until next Sunday,
[i] Matthew 5:9
[ii] Mark 9:50
[iii] Romans 12:18; I Thessalonians 5:13; I Corinthians 7:15; II Corinthians 13:11
[iv] Titus 3:2
[v] Hebrews 12:14
[vi] Romans 14:19
[vii] Colossians 3:15
[viii] I Peter 3:11