When you look at the world around us, “peaceful” would be the last word you would use to describe it. All around us is instability and uncertainty. Everything from the political scene, to domestic and international terrorism, to gender disparity, to racism, and even LGBT rights creates anxiety in the life of even the most secure believer. Worry is perpetual, yet Christ calls us not to worry. Anyone else struggle with that instruction?
We are called to live at peace, but peace is a tricky concept. It is a word mentioned over 400 times in Scripture, yet the average millennial rarely uses this word to describe his or her life. Instead, we use words like “stressful,” “overwhelming,” “hectic,” “busy,” and even “exhausting.”
Even if we take our eyes off of our national and international issues, our days are filled with stress-filled battles we have with our friends, families, co-workers, and even strangers. We live in a culture where opinions are loud and run rampant. We can blast our thoughts and sentiments in 140 characters or less at the blink of an eye. We can post a picture that’s worth far more than a thousand words it seems. We are at war with anyone who doesn’t think or act like we do.
But what if we stop fighting the same way we always have? What if we take Jesus seriously when He says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9)?
I used to read this verse and think that Jesus was calling His people to quiet little lives that don’t speak out for fear of offending. I lived my life like this for too long. I witnessed injustice around me and believed the lie that someone else would speak up and that ruffling feathers wasn’t for me. I was wrong. Thinking and living this way is merely peace keeping, and nowhere in scripture does Jesus call us to just keep the peace. As He Himself modeled, peacemaking is the work of those who love and trust the Lord. It is fighting hard through action and self-sacrifice for unity through Christ.
Jesus – fully man and fully God – was never shy about ruffling feathers. His earthly ministry points to offending the religious elite, flipping tables in His Father’s temple, casting out thieves and robbers with a whip, and speaking boldly into the lives of those who were separated from God the Father by pointing out their sin. His goal wasn’t to cause chaos, but actually to calm it by pointing the lost to Himself, and not to false sources of security.
Christ in His perfection and divinity knew that there is a constant spiritual battle that underlies our every thought, motive, and action. Peace must be fought for. It is not passive. When we become makers of peace, we stand in the gap of opposing arguments and fight for unity and harmony. Our enemy fights to create division and disharmony. We must be women that fight aggressively against his schemes. We must fight for peace in the world around us and in our own hearts and minds. We must acknowledge where the enemy has schemed to wreak havoc in our lives by dragging us away from the one we can call our Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). It is vital that we trust the source of all peace especially when we feel out of control.
Being a peacemaker means we walk into turbulence with the God of all peace on our side (2 Thessalonians 3:16.) It means we fight against division. It doesn’t mean we just sit back and ignore sin and injustice, but it changes the way we fight against it. We don’t try to scream the loudest. Instead, we love the hardest.
Paul writes in Romans 12:17-21, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (If you want to study what each of those instructions means, our 21-day devotional on living a set apart life delves into this passage through in depth Bible study!).
Peacemaking requires humility, compassion, and strength from the Holy Spirit. It is swallowing our pride and loving like Jesus.
Peacemaking will be the obvious overflow of lives and hearts rooted and satisfied in Christ. It will be evidenced in our actions. When we make peace in the world around us, we are living and sharing the Gospel with a lost and broken world: the good news that Jesus’s ultimate act of peacemaking was death on the cross for the sins of the world in order to reconcile a lost people to His loving, merciful Father.
As followers of Christ, it is not our job or responsibility to fight all the fights or right all the wrongs, but to point the world to Jesus.
So, what does this mean practically? It means you stop trying to make your opinion heard. It means you get your hands messy with serving and helping others. It means you go to that friend or coworker or stranger and learn to say sorry for an offense. It means you care more about reconciliation than about being right. It means you don’t add fuel to other people’s fires by adding your two cents about situations at the risk of offending or hurting other people. It means you learn to forgive and love people with the heart of the Father. It means making sure that everyone in your life is exposed to the Gospel, because none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. It means being Christ and being the light in a dark and angry world.
We could all use a little more peace in our lives. The world needs us to fight for peace any and everywhere we go. Today, “shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15) so that each step you take points the world to Jesus.