Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
The problem is that we would much rather KEEP the peace rather than MAKE it. If only Jesus would have said, “Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall be called sons of God.” THEN we would all be knocking it out of the park! We love to try and KEEP the peace when it comes to conflict.
We prefer to be PASSIVE when conflict arises. People who respond passively to conflict may feel great emotion about the situation, but they don’t show any signs or say any words about it. We believe, unbiblically, that all conflict is wrong and should be endured quietly in the name of “love” and/or “mercy.” In an effort to make conflict go away, we surrender our relationships, ourselves, and truth. We become more interested in keeping people from being hurt than we are about being reconciled to God’s truth. In other words, passivity is a form of deceit. It is an astonishingly deceitful form of SELFISHNESS. We tell ourselves that we are holding it in because we want to protect others, but really we are passive because it’s all about us and what we prefer.
Or we prefer to be EVASIVE. “Is something wrong?” “No …” … when something really is. And if forced to answer, we will usually divert the real issue to something of lesser importance. For example, good defense attorneys facing a strong witness against their client won’t question the facts the witness brings: rather, they evade those and attack the credibility of the witness. Of course, there are ways of being evasive without using such tactics, but you get the point. When a conflict arises, one of the things we can do is simply dodge it, and there are lots of ways of doing this.
Or perhaps we prefer to be DEFENSIVE. In the midst of conflict, we might move to justify or defend ourselves, minimizing our exposure to our own shortcomings. We think that conflict is SOLELY about proving who is right and right, so we work to defend our authority and position at any cost. When defensive in the face of conflict, we reveal that we are more interested in ourselves than we are God’s truth or genuine reconciliation. We redefine “peace” to mean “I win at any cost.”
Or, finally, sometimes we respond to conflict AGGRESSIVELY. “My way or the highway.” We respond to conflict with a heavy right hand. We force so-called “truth” at the expense of the relationships.
(Author’s Note: This list exists in many forms in the world wide internet. Thanks to Ken Sande’s Making Peace and MLJ’s sermons on this text in my particular case.)
Passiveness. Evasiveness. Defensiveness. Aggression. All methods of KEEPING the peace. And in doing so, we never MAKE peace.
But Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Peacekeeping and peacemaking – the two could not be more different. By definition, a peacekeeper is primarily interested in conservation, while a peacemaker is primarily interested in transformation. So the work and methods of a peacemaker are totally different than a peacekeeper.
Peacemaking is the work of reconciliation. It’s like conducting a choir to find and fine-tune its harmony. Whether it’s a disagreement between believers in a congregation, or a hostile “relationship” with a personal enemy, the Christian endeavors to reconcile … to make peace.
We are not always or perhaps even often successful. Jesus did not say, “Blessed are the peace achievers.” (My thanks to John Piper for his sermon on this text.) Our goal is Romans 12:18 – “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This verse implies that there will be times that achieving peace will not be possible, perhaps even because standing for the truth will make it impossible for you to do so, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying to reconcile. It doesn’t mean you stop making peace.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.