Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Peacekeepers or Peacemakers?

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Jessica Delp

“Blessed are the peacemakers, 

for they shall be called sons of God.” ~Matthew 5:9

Until about two years ago, I always lived out what Sally Clarkson has referred to on her podcast as the “good little Christian girl syndrome”, meaning that for years I thought that being Christlike meant always turning the other cheek no matter what, letting others run all over me in whatever way they saw fit. I didn’t erect boundaries with unhealthy people, draw attention to cases of sin in their lives, or say “no” to overly demanding friends. But the Lord has been doing a work in my heart lately, opening my eyes to the full-orbed reality of how Jesus lived His own life.

We are often confused today about what it means to cultivate peace in our everyday lives, what wisdom looks like in relation to how we treat one another, and how we intentionally choose the right path between bringing peace or creating war in our relationships. We think that peace looks like sweeping everything under the rug, never calling someone up, never lovingly rebuking or admonishing a brother or sister in Christ, and never erecting boundaries. 

The perhaps surprising truth, however, is that this is not at all how Jesus emulated for us a peace-loving life. In the middle of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Note, however, that Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are the peacekeepers”, as if our mission in life is to keep the peace and uphold the status quo. Rather, He said “blessed are the peacemakers”, and by Christ’s own example we see that sometimes making peace requires shaking things up for a bit in order to get rid of the problem which is stealing our peace in the first place.

We see this in John 2:13-16 when Jesus went through the temple and turned over all the tables of those attempting to sell their wares in that holy place. This was no docile, keep-the-peace, let people do what they want “peacekeeping”! This was strong, intentional, dutiful peacemaking!

Likewise, James 3:18 says, "Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Did you notice the last phrase there? “Make” peace. Not keep the peace, but make it - again reiterating what Jesus had said back in Matthew. 

Being a peacemaker isn’t always fun, nor comfortable. Sometimes it requires saying the hard thing (always humbly and in love!) or taking action when you would rather just look the other way. But that is not what is in the best interest of our loved ones, so we must instead seek peace, pursue it, and give ourselves to that which will uphold it. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it!

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