Not long ago a woman said to a friend of hers something about the need of God if we were to have peace. Her friend replied, “What on earth has God got to do with peace?” It’s a good question, pretty far out, but after all that’s where many people are.
Who is the authentic maker of peace? The Apostle Paul stated it directly when he said, “For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” (l Corinthians 14:33). God then is the author, maker and the source of peace. Apart from God, there is no peace. Truth is, we simply cannot keep the peace until we have peace ourselves and are willing to share it. Consequently, peace is the fruit of peacemaking. The climax of all the beatitudes is this one, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
First, peacemaking has to do with having God’s peace ourselves! Peace is both a gift and a task, but it will never become our task until we have received it as a gift.
Second, peacemaking has to do with practicing self-restraint! A pertinent example of this occurred in Utah prior to the election. It’s concerning the Governor’s race and a video of the two candidates. After introducing themselves, the two candidates explain why they should receive the people’s votes. Following that, the two candidates take turns making statements that are actually refreshing:
“We can debate issues without degrading each others character.” “We can disagree without hating each other.” “Win or lose, in Utah we can work together.” That’s peacemaking by self-restraint.
Third, peacemaking has to do with the doing of justice! As someone observed, “Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right.” As long as there is injustice and wrong relations between people, there will be no real peace in the world.
Fourth, peacemaking has to do with answering God’s call and taking the risk! As people of faith, we are meant to be remedies in the midst of brokenness and hostility. And we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was addressing this when he spoke of his three rules for voting: 1) Vote without fee or reward for the person they judged the most worthy. 2) Speak no evil of the person they voted against. 3) Take care their spirits were not sharpened against those who voted on the other side.
But the question is, will we answer God’s call to be peacemakers and are we willing to take the risk? If the deep discord and division in our society continues, it will not be because it is inevitable, but because not enough men and women have taken the risk to avert it. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus, “for they will be called children of God.”