Blessed are the Peacemakers
Allow me to paint you a picture. It’s Thanksgiving dinner and you have been running around all day cooking, cleaning, and creating the perfect environment for your soon-arriving guests. You have cousins flying in at 2:00pm, your son and his new live-in girlfriend driving in from Oregon, and Uncle Tim coming in from Washington (a guy who never fails to greet everyone by asking them to pull his finger). At some point Grandpa is dropping by; he can’t wait to begin a conversation on politics as soon as we say grace. Then there’s your sister and her colicky twins, and her husband, the atheist. And let’s not forget the in-laws who can always do it better, for less money, and in half the time. What could go wrong in this scenario? A million things, right? How can peace rule the potential chaos of this day?
The craziness of this scene reminds me of the classic fable of “The Eagle and the Arrow,” written by renowned Greek storyteller Aesop. An eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an arrow and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it cried as it died, “we often give our enemy the means for our own destruction.”
Can you relate? The eagle who played a part in his own unfortunate demise is often how I find myself when I am busy or really stressed which, for me, seems to intensify right around the holidays. I get so focused on the task at hand and getting things done, that I give my enemy a foothold into my day. I can become so intent on creating the perfect environment that I neglect the most important one, the one of heart and mind. Because the meal that took hours to create will be gobbled down within minutes, the gifts I took such delicate care to wrap will be torn open and destroyed within a few months or regifted next year. The décor, the lights, and the scents (all good things but all unnecessary) all lack luster in comparison to truly creating an environment for peacekeeping and memory-making with the people I adore.
Your family, friends, acquaintances will enter your day, often tired, hungry, needy, seeking advice or compassion. They may very well become your ministry in an instant…how have you prepared? The enemy would love to keep you busy…too busy for worship, too busy to rest, too busy for self-care. Preparation is key…and it begins with you.
So, how can we be armed for the day regardless of how it unfolds? How can we become peacemakers in any situation? It is simply through worship. Spending time with God does several things to our desires and our priorities. First, it humbles us. A key to being a peacemaker is having the right disposition. We see this in the Beatitudes of Matthew chapter 5. We read that it is not only a blessed state to be a peacemaker but it is also blessed to be poor in spirit. Matthew 5:9 says, “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.” Why are peacemakers called children of God? Because they are following in the footsteps of their maker…the ultimate reconciler, Jesus Christ. Why are the poor in spirit blessed? Because they see their own depravity before the cross.
The gospel and its message keep the believer grounded, God-focused, and prompted to give what we were freely given: much grace and mercy. In the gospel we remember the costly price of our salvation, we are broken over our own sin, and we recognize that we are the biggest sinner we will deal with on any given day. We see this teaching in Matthew 7; if we portray ourselves as beyond sin, we fail to remove the hypocrisy within our lives. Because as surely as you say I feel no plank, it’s the first thing that everyone sees as you step into the room. Consider Luke 5:31-32, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” “Only sinners need a Savior.” So, in worship our stature is humbled.
We also get a godly perspective through the study and meditation of God’s Word. If we believe being a spiritually poor peacemaker is a blessed state, our actions will follow our beliefs. We will take 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 and surrender our rights and privilege for the benefit of another. A peacekeeper assumes that peace has already arrived. A peacemaker is equipped to set a standard and embodies peace to, in fact, carry it wherever they go. We have this in the Holy Spirit of God, the giver of peace and joy (Galatians 5:22-23) who is the fuel for our day.
Finally, we must reconsider our definition of conflict. Proverbs 27:6 states, “the wounds of a friend can be trusted, but the enemy multiplies kisses.” Conflict is not always bad. In fact, part of getting close to others means there will be different perspectives, diverse beliefs, and varied backgrounds. Conflict can be an opportunity to model your faith, to practice compassion, understanding, humility, grace, and speaking the truth in love. Conflict between people is inevitable, but how it is approached is entirely dependent upon you.
So, the next time the family gunslinger walks through the door, don’t come to a gun fight armed with a knife. Come equipped with the armor of God. Have ears to listen. In fact, intentionally speak less. Build a bridge of understanding instead of an artillery of great comebacks. Engage to understand before seeking to be understood. Have a spirit of reconciliation. Be as God called you. Because your blessed disposition as a peacemaker and a representative of Christ should be the greatest gift you present to others on any given day of the year.