Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 (NKJV)
It’s important to understand that peacemaking isn’t appeasement. Appeasement carries with it the idea of peace at any cost. This would mean to be a peacemaker we should never confront sinful attitudes or actions, never correct false doctrine and that we must complacently accept anything and everything that comes along so that we don’t make waves. This is completely unbiblical.
Being a peacemaker isn’t passively accepting anything and everything that comes along because we are afraid of making waves. The peace that we are supposed to work for doesn’t come from dodging issues. Instead it is the kind of peace that comes from actively facing issues, dealing with them and overcoming them. It is working for peace even when doing so is a struggle. Peacemakers are those people who seek to solve disputes, erase divisions, reconcile differences and eliminate strife. I know what you are thinking right now. You’re thinking, “Man that sounds like fun!” Right? Okay maybe not, but this is the attitude that Jesus has called on each and every Christian to have.
As we think about what it means to be a peacemaker we immediately recognize there is a huge difference between knowing what a peacemaker does and doing what peacemaker does. As great is it is to know what a peacemaker does. That knowledge is useless unless we do what a peacemaker does. So the question arises, “If we were going to do the work of making peace, what would we do?” Let me give you three things that we must do if we are to be peacemakers.
Be active not passive. One of the easiest and maybe even most natural things for us to do when it comes to working to make peace out of conflict is to stay out of the situation until we absolutely have to do something. If two of our friends or coworkers are out of sorts with each other we do our best to be friends with both without getting involved in their situation. If they press us and force us to get involved in some way we will, but otherwise we do our best to stay out of it.
We are also prone to do this when we are the one that is out of sorts with someone else. We reason that if they are okay with being out of sorts with me then I’m okay with being out of sorts with them. If they were to come to us we would probably be civilized and we might even talk to them. But we are NOT going to be the ones to make the first move towards making peace.
Is this the attitude we are supposed to have? Are we supposed to passively stay out of the way until we are forced to become more active in the situation? No, we’re not. As peacemakers we are supposed to take the initiative in making peace. We should be actively looking for ways we can help rather than passively waiting until we have no other choice.
Be sincere not superficial. If you’ve ever tried to work at making peace with people you know that at times it can be messy business. If we are going to work to make peace we are going to have to be involved in the messiness of people’s lives. Making peace isn’t a spectator’s sport by any stretch of the imagination. Making peace isn’t something you can do while remaining superficial either. You have to get involved in the messiness of life to actually be a help. If you’re not willing to sincerely get involved in people’s lives you cannot be a peacemaker.
This is probably the main reason that so few people are willing to work to make peace. It makes us uncomfortable to sincerely get involved in people’s lives. We prefer superficial to sincere involvement. We are more comfortable with being superficial than we are with sincere involvement. We even expect to be superficial and not sincere.
When we ask, “How are you today?” the answer we want is, “Oh man, I am great!” We really don’t want to hear, “Well my back hurts, my car broke down and my mother-in-law is staying with us for three months.” We want to help people but in a superficial way. However if we really want to work at making peace we will have to move beyond this attitude.
Get all the facts not some. How many parents have had something like this happen before? One of your children comes up to you and tells you that their sister punched them. You get upset, go and get on to said sister and after you’ve given them the what-for they burst out with, “But she poked me in the eye.” At this point you call the original tattler in and ask if she poked her sister in the eye and are told yes she did but there was a good reason for it. Now you feel bad for getting on to the puncher because it sounds like the tattler deserved to be punched. If you’ve ever had this or something similar happen to you then you understand that point that I’m making here.
If we are going to work at making peace it is critical that we do all we can to ensure we know the entire story. I heard a pastor talking about something similar to this once and he said he asked the person, “Is there something that you really don’t want me to know about? Chances are that is the first thing I need to hear.”
The promise given to the peacemaker is that he will be called a son of God. Peacemakers are called the sons of God because in making peace they are acting like the Son of God who came to bring peace between a holy God and sinful man (Romans 5:1, 10-11). More than anything peacemakers show themselves to be sons of God by following the example of Jesus.