(Watch this powerful message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page)
We live in a day where it seems like we can’t escape unrest. Political, racial, and economic unrest generate new headlines every day. Anxiety is consuming many people. And, maybe you yourself walk around feeling on edge because of everything swirling around you.
Let me assure you, there is hope.
I believe that God wants to visit you, your family, your church, and your community with peace. We serve the Prince of Peace. And, Jesus is in the business of giving His children peace and not just giving us peace, but helping us to become peacemakers.
Conflict Is a Normal Part of Life
Your family is not weird. You’re not weird. Your job’s not weird. Your school’s not weird. Your church is not weird. Our nation’s not even weird.
Conflict is a normal part of life. The issue is not about you having a conflict-free life. None of us will ever have that. We will never live in a nation that is conflict-free. We will never have jobs that are conflict-free. As long as we walk this earth, we will encounter conflict.
What we must learn is how we can become emotionally healthy, mentally healthy and not just be peace-loving people, but actually peace-making people.
In Matthew 5:9 Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for, they will be called children of God.”
Peacemakers are not people who simply want peace. Peacemakers are individuals that are working for God to help make sure that there is peace between God and humanity. Peacemakers are actively engaged in the process to ensure that there is peace.
Peacemakers are individuals that help to bridge the gap to help create peace between humanity and God and peace between mankind with one another and also peace internally.
Peacemakers value peace, it’s important, and a high priority to them. They think about it. They pray about it. They look for it. They live for it. They are actively engaged in peacemaking efforts.
Peacemakers are reconcilers. They connect broken frail humanity with a loving, whole, emotionally caring God. Peacemakers are identified with God. Jesus says blessed are the poor, for they shall be called children of God. In other words, God says to us in the person of His son, Jesus, are you involved in peacemaking?
Peacemakers take no delight in division and strife and mayhem and chaos. They are involved in lobbying for peace so that we could be able to enjoy a much more peaceful country. Think of our nation as it is going through this real upheaval of political unrest and racial unrest. Think about the dynamics of the health unrest and the infighting around the best way to handle COVID and what’s not the best way. Our nation needs peacemakers.
What Peacemaking Is Not
In order to understand peacemaking. Let me show you what peacemaking is not.
Peacemaking is not avoiding. When you say I don’t rock the boat. I sweep everything under the rug. That’s not peacemaking. That’s cowardice. Peacemaking is not appeasing.
People who say I always give in, they always get their way, I believe in peace at any price. That’s not peacemaking, that’s codependency. When you find yourself saying those kinds of things, you’re running from conflict. That’s not peacemaking.
Peacemaking is not denying. It’s not just accepting chaos and having the attitude of “It is what is.” Peacemakers understand how to give the appropriate response to conflict. Yes, they experience conflict, but they have an appropriate response to conflict and know how to settle the issue.
Peacemakers use the appropriate response to bring their environment back to a peaceful state without avoiding conflict. They don’t appease. They don’t deny it because that’s not what peacemakers do.
Becoming a Peacemaker
First, you have to value peace. Do you value it?
Jesus says in Luke 10:5-6, “As soon as you enter a home, say, God, bless this home with peace. If the people living there are peace-loving, your prayer for peace will bless them. But if they’re not peace-loving, your prayer will return to you.”
What he’s saying is the peacemakers carry peace.
The greeting in first-century Jewish communities is more than just a formality. What Jesus was pointing out was that if there are people in this home that love peace, and that are engaged in peacemaking efforts, you’re in a home where people value the presence of God.
When you learn to carry peace, you know how to bring peace to your environment, even though others may be prone to chaos.
In Jeremiah 29:7 the prophet said, “Also seek the peace and the prosperity of the city to which I’ve carried you into exile, pray to the Lord for it. Because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Here’s the background and context for that verse. People are being brought into captivity as slaves against their judgment and desires. As this is happening, Jeremiah prophesies, the Lord says to seek the peace and the prosperity of the city, to which I carried you into exile.
In other words, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like the job where you are. It doesn’t matter if everything in the home is not working out fine. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have enough money in the bank. It doesn’t matter if your health is not a hundred percent there. It doesn’t matter.
There’s no denying that those things are important. But what the Bible is saying is this: If you’re going to become a carrier of peace, which peacemakers must do and must be, you must check your attitude because it’s not dependent on where you are and who you’re with and what’s going on, because the Scripture calls us to be peacemakers.
Peacemakers value peace, peacemakers carry peace and we must recognize that.
The early church was so mindful of the issue of peace that they used to greet one another with peace. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, said in chapter one, verse two, “grace and peace to you from God, the father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Paul said the same thing when he wrote his letter to the Corinthians when he wrote his letter to the Galatians when he wrote his letter to the Philippians when he wrote his first two letters to the Thessalonians and even one to Philemon. He says, grace and peace to you.
Peace was a desire that the early church had. To carry it and to instill it.
Peter even said in 1 Peter 5:14, “peace to all of you in Christ.”
Steps to Becoming a Peacemaker
Romans 14:19 says, “therefore, let us pursue the things which produce peace and the things that build up one another.”
Peacemakers broker piece. They are involved in the work of executing, developing, lobbying, and making sure peace occurs. A peacemaker says I’m going to help navigate the murky waters of conflicts that are separating people or separating a business or a home in order to be able to broker peace.
So, to broker peace, consider these things.
First, listen carefully.
You can’t broker peace unless you listen to both sides. As a pastoral counselor, I’ve never made decisions based on hearing one side. When I hear both sides, I’m listening carefully not to see who’s right and who’s wrong, but how I may bring reconciliation.
Second, validate feelings.
Feelings are real. And oftentimes feelings overpower logic, rationale and our analytical prowess. I know a lot of people do crazy things because of how they feel and they’re tired of feeling that way. Whether feeling abused or feeling taken advantage of, they’ll do nonsensical things, they’ll do self-destructive things or give themselves to drugs and alcohol or even to stealing or all kinds of things.
As a peacemaker, I listen carefully to people and validate feelings. When they say, I feel hurt, I’m going to validate that to say, I’m sorry that you feel hurt. When they say, I feel lonely, I’m going to affirm that by saying, I’m sorry you feel lonely. And then I say, let’s figure out how we can change that. I don’t dismiss their feelings.
Third, work on a healthy compromise.
Compromise doesn’t mean you lose the argument.
When I counsel married couples I might say, “Why would you sacrifice a marriage to win an argument?” Compromise gives you the opportunity to take a step toward your spouse and gives your spouse an opportunity to take a step towards you.
There have been times when I’ve met with couples over the years, and they were at the door of divorce, and I said, let’s put a pause button on it. And I said, what I’d like for you to do is to give me a 60-day agreement. And I would draw up an agreement that shows within these 60 days, you will not contact an attorney. And I lay out the do’s and don’ts, and then there’s a point in that 60-day contract, where I ask them to give me five things that you want your spouse to do that’s going to help meet your expectations.
Then I provide constructive ways to each of them to fulfill those five expectations. Whether it’s behavioral changes, whether it’s not doing certain things or to start doing certain things, whatever it may be, I’m looking at it as a way to try to help them meet a healthy compromise.
If you’re going to become a peacemaker and broker peace, you must listen carefully, validate feelings, strive for healthy compromise and you must also model reconciliation. In other words, I can’t be a good peacemaker if my life has all of these broken relationships that are behind me.
Our nation needs peacemakers.
Will you be a peacemaker?