When we think of peacemaking, likely what comes to most people’s minds are images of doves, joined hands, unity, love, etc. The reality is quite different. Peacemaking and reconciliation involve not only entering into spaces, situations where conflict is present, it also means that in attempting to bring peace, one often encounters conflict. The very act of peacemaking, because it brings to light hidden conflicts, hidden sins, hidden injustices, and often unspoken undercurrents of animosity, resentment, hurt, and wounds, can even result in externally expressed conflict.
To be a peacemaker means to stand in the gap. It means to enter into the very situations of conflict, turmoil, and hurt that others may flee from, deny, avoid, and open oneself up to being misunderstood, criticized, attacked, slandered, judged, rejected, abandoned, and in some cases, physically assaulted or killed (Examples of the latter: Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr.).
Being a peacemaker is not a safe or popular activity. Sometimes, peacemakers are accused of “straddling the fence,” or “trying to please everyone,” or “staying safe in the middle.” On the other hand, peacemakers are also accused of “starting trouble,” “stirring stuff up,” “turning things upside down,” “being seditious,” “being a traitor,” “being unpatriotic,” being “disturbers of the peace,” and so forth.
Being a peacemaker means you leave the safety of your respective tribe, bubble, echo chamber, and comfort zone, and enter the space of others who may be different from you, disagree with you, and perhaps, outright hate you. Jesus Christ set an example of this for us when he, the Son of God, entered human form on this earth, left his glory, comfort, power, privilege, and entered into our broken, fallen world. He came to make peace between humanity and their Creator so that his Father might become our Father. He came that we might be reconciled both to God, and with each other.
Like any peacemaker, he was misunderstood, perceived as a troublemaker and a threat to the “kingdoms of the world.” Those to whom he brought the message of the Kingdom of Heaven, which was a message of peace and reconciliation, were the very ones who rejected him, turned on him, falsely accused him, hated him, and ultimately, crucified him.
Jesus told those who followed him to expect the same.
This response is often typical…regardless if the person striving to be a peacemaker is a Christian, a Muslim, an agnostic, an atheist, or a member of any other religion, or is non-religious.
If the approval, applause, acceptance, accolades of others is what is most important to you, then don’t pursue peacemaking. If loving others, if wanting to bind up the wounds of others, bridge the gaps between warring individuals or factions, or simply help make your world a more loving, peaceful place, then peacemaking is for you. If you confess Christ, call yourself a Christian, then you are called to follow Christ, and if you are called to follow Christ, you are called to be a peacemaker.
But be forewarned: Peacemaking is not popular. It is not safe. It is not easy. There are sharp rocks, steep cliffs, freezing winds, deep, gaping ravines, roaring rapids, fierce storms, raging fires……..in a world that can be so dark, so broken, so divided, so conflicted. And that is where peacemakers are so desperately needed.
If your heart is broken by the hurting people, the broken communities and relationships, the stark polarization and division you see around you, and you want to be a light in the midst of it, if you want to be a peacemaker, but you are not entirely sure how……..please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our Facebook page, “PeacemakersDiscussionGroup-PDG.” We would love to hear from you.