St Paul teaches the Romans: Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. (Rom. 5:1, 2 NRSV)
When Jesus is teaching people how to live a Kingdom-minded life, He in part states, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." (Matt. 5:9) Christians, who are supposed to be disciples of Jesus, are called to be peacemakers. Those disciples of Jesus who are peacemakers are deemed children of God. Just like earthly parents see traits of themselves in their children, so, too, does God long to see traits of His nature in His children, as they seek to make peace with others as does He. But what does making peace with others require of us? What will it cost?
Making peace with others will cost us our pride. The soul-destroying nature of pride cannot allow for making peace, but peacemaking requires humility, and confessing the most obvious fact that, at times, we are the ones who are in the wrong -- we are the ones who must apologize; we are the ones guilty of demeaning another; we are the ones who must seek the peace of the offended. Moreover, even if someone has hurt us, we can still seek for making peace. Even if we know that someone "has something against us," we can and should still seek for making peace. (Matt. 5:23, 24, 25)
A caveat or qualification is required here. The subject of peacemaking about which I am engaging here is a separate issue from physical, emotional, or spiritual abuse suffered by helpless victims. I am in no sense advocating passivity with regard to abuse: those who are being abused need to run from such abuse into a safe environment. Ignore all pastors and counselors who insist that you should endure abuse and that, by doing so, you are being biblical. That, in itself, is abusive. Peacemaking does not require a wife to endure abuse. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite is true, for if an abuse victim is to actually make for peace then that precious soul needs to actively traverse into the safe fields of peace in another place. Moreover, appealing to Matthew 5:39 is, in itself, enabling abuse, and betrays Jesus' words regarding peacemaking. We do not make for peace by enabling abuse. The peacemaking I am referring to here solely regards living the everyday life of a disciple of Jesus. Physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse is another topic altogether.
Making peace will require us to lay down our arms, lay down those weapons with which we defend ourselves and our cherished beliefs, and decisively end the battle. Making peace will require that we forfeit our rights. In this contentious age, when Christians in this country are clinging to their rights as if that is their salvation, forfeiting rights is not on the typical agenda. Yet St Paul teaches: "But when you thus sin against members of your [spiritual] family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ." (1 Cor. 8:12; cf. Rom. 14:13-23) His point is obvious: though we may maintain a right, that does not indicate ipso facto that we are to exercise that right, regardless of how our alleged right affects others. Making peace will require us to forfeit a right and we should be zealously eager to give up that right for the sake of another.
Peacemaking requires action. There is nothing passive about peacemaking. Yet, even overt pacifism requires great inner strength, integrity and a confidence in the Kingdom of God and His power. Still, if we are to make peace, then we cannot assume peace will happen by our passivity. Edmund Burke, a British-Irish states-person, is noted for saying: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing." I think this is a biblical notion. Otherwise, Jesus would have taught us to be good peace-keepers, rather than peace-makers. Anyone can attempt to keeping peace. Making peace, however, requires much more diligence, an intentioned tenacity, humility and self-efficacy. How is this teaching of Jesus at Matthew 5:9 lived out in everyday life?
Have you wronged someone? Have you been wronged by someone? Have you missed opportunities to do good but ignored them? Are you angry at anyone? Are you in the middle of a battle between friends, co-workers, church members, neighbors, or family members that needs your peace-making? If you are like me, you may try to avoid conflicts at any cost, seeking to "just stay out of it." I empathize with you. Yet, Jesus is calling me as well as you to be peacemakers, as children of God who love God and want to imitate the heart of God by the way we think and live. The very least we can do is ask God how we might seek for making peace in all of life's situations in which we often find ourselves every day. When the opportunity arises, and what is needed is the making of reconciliation, may we, by the Spirit of God, act on it and, thus, aid in the coming of God's kingdom on earth -- His will being accomplished in and through us on earth as it is in heaven.
This post was written by William Birch. You can find his blog here: http://www.williambirch.net