Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Peace-MAKERS. My pastor, Bruce Bradburn, emphasized this almost prophetically two weeks ago. He took great pains to emphasize that the scripture doesn’t applaud peace-KEEPING, peace-LOVING, or being peace-ABLE, it specifically blesses peace-MAKERS. This was seriously NOT good news for me, a person who prides herself on being conflict averse – letting things go, going with the flow, and not making waves. When I do run into conflict, I back up – FAST. So how, exactly, was he suggesting that I MAKE peace? Isn’t that Jesus’ job???
This “incident” came to mind.
A few years ago I was minding my own business in the hallway of my children’s elementary school when someone shouts out (in a crowded hallway mind you), “Your hair looks different every day!” Sensing the taboo about to be trodded upon by the white father who had dared to call attention to this fact, another mother turned around and said, “You don’t ask a black woman about her hair!” Yikes. What started as a joke landed him right in the cross hairs of two black women – a dangerous place to be.
We could have walked away and left it there. Or it could have become a major situation calling for meetings, task forces, and sensitivity training but instead I said, “It’s okay. I can recommend some books and movies. Let’s get together and talk about it!” Our families had dinner. It turned out that this father had many questions, comments, and thoughts (and no filter) so we had a great conversation. One conversation turned into many – always with open minds and open hearts. And so the battering ram of racial reconciliation was born! Our families became the close friends and our children are betrothed (or so we hope, as racism will most certainly be erased when everyone is black/white/hispanic).
Each of us can do what our two families did because each of us has what Paul referred to as a “ministry of reconciliation” in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us a ministry of reconciliation, that is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Therefore, according to this scripture we should be constantly reconciling – people to God and people to each other. It sounds so simple but, of course it isn’t. When tempers are running high and real hurt has been caused by things said or done, it can be the most difficult thing in the world to reconcile. Consider our recent election. Everyone felt the rage and venom coming from the other side and everyone was shocked at the outcome. Yet, now it is time to move forward, accepting the verdict, and looking hopefully toward the future knowing that God never leaves or forsakes us, that love conquers all, and that we have this “ministry of reconciliation” – we were called to this.
I know what you’re thinking. But, how? How do we get past some of the things we have seen and heard recently? God never leaves us without a plan. The “how” is right there in the scripture……”not imputing their trespasses to them”. Not judging, or blaming, or holding past wrongs against the offenders. Choosing the path of grace and mercy, choosing to see the good, and choosing to search for the answers.
A friend from church shared an article describing what life is really like for much of middle America and a heartfelt explanation that there is a group of people out there who are really (and validly) hurting, demoralized, and angry. I’m not saying that spewing hate is right, but I am saying that there is real pain behind the venom. You don’t have to agree with someone to acknowledge that they have feelings too, even if you don’t understand them. This simple affirmation (without forcing the acknowledgment of who’s pain is worse) goes a long way toward reconciliation and forgiveness.
Oh, and Pastor Bruce mentioned that reconciliation would be messy, and sometimes painful. Peace-MAKING is active – not just being peace-ABLE but actively bringing people/family members/political parties/races together. Invite someone to coffee, explain your point of view and listen to theirs remembering that it is as difficult to hear truth as it is to speak truth. These won’t be easy conversations but God, through the power of His Spirit, will strengthen us, help us understand each other, and help us find the path to reconciliation.
After all, we believers are the recipients of the greatest act of reconciliation that the world has ever known. Wouldn’t it bring great glory to God to see us all out there exercising restraint and making peace instead of fueling the flames of war? If we do, we shall be called “children of God” (and hey, who doesn’t want to be friends with the children of God?)