29 March, 2015

The Work of Peacemaking

Cross posted from FortyFaithful.blogspot.com
The call to peacemaking from Matthew 5:9 befuddles me.  Perhaps this is a verse that only applies to those who have the personality or giftedness of peacemaking.  Surely this is one verse that I can discount as "does not apply."  But then I began to think and remember:
Those long days of work and picking up my two elementary age children who were arguing and needing peacemaking well before we found our driveway!  I remember those same two living life as teenagers and the peacemaking that occurred in our house!  Then my memory took me back even further to my parents and our household.  By the time I was in junior high school I was the remaining child in my parents home.  There were disagreements in those days too.  I found peacemaking was easier than "walking on egg shells."  So perhaps I have some experience in this field after all...

But I'm pondering as to whether this call to peacemaking is deeper than the circumstantial situations I've described.  I wanted to know how truly interested Jesus was in peacemaking.  Upon the birth of Jesus it was announced in Luke 2:14: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.  In John 18, when Jesus was about to be arrested, Peter drew his sword and struck a high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear.  Jesus went into peacemaking mode and stopped Peter and commanded him to put his sword away.  Then in Luke at the death of Jesus, He becomes the peace-giver granting favor to the repenting thief on the cross.
At His birth, in His life and in His death Jesus lived peace-making and peace-giving.  So how can I?  How can you? How do I offer peace to the world in which I live.

It seems to me that I can only offer peace when I, myself have accepted God's peace within my own soul.  For you see what I have realized is that in my life I have had many peacemaker roles.
...to my parents
...at work
...to my children: Nick and Sarah
...to my brother/sisters
...in the church

But these roles have mostly focused on simply 'getting through' conflict and NOT resolving or addressing the deeper brokenness of each relationship.  True peacemaking and peace giving are at their core: genuine, difficult and oh, so worth it.  For it is in the difficulty of finding the peace that our own inner peace can be restored.  J. Ellsworth Kalas states it this way, "But how exactly does one make peace?  Nearly all of us claim to want peace...Since peace is so universally admired and presumable so universally sought after, it must not be that easy to achieve, else our human race would have won the goal several millennia ago....Most of us realize that we have conflicts within our own person - angers, resentments, bitterness, and fears."  Let's do the work of peace in our own hearts and lives.  For it only then that we can truly accept Jesus' peace into our own lives and offer peacemaking to the lives of others.

One of Jesus last great lessons occurred just before His crucifixion and is found in John 14:27.  Jesus is speaking to his disciples.....us:
Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts by troubled and do not be afraid.

He's offering us a life of peace, He's offering us healing for our damaged emotions and our damaged selves.  Can we accept His free gift of peace?  And then begin to share peacemaking in our everyday worlds?

I've written a few times about our family's journey into the world of addiction and recovery. In simplest terms this means that as one of our members become addicted so did our lives as well.  A sickness took over our family and each member in it experienced the illness in a different way.  Each of us was hurt, wounded and suffered differently.  And for the last 4.9 years we have chosen to work toward healing.  Each member of the family is working to find recovery.  It has taken many tears, prayers, and so much honesty that my heart has ached at times.  We have found that the only true peace, and therefore our ability to offer peacemaking, has come from the most hurtful but brutal honesty with each other.  For once those old places of woundedness were touched...the healing peace was able to come in.

This peace business is not for the light-hearted.  It is not for those who would prefer to keep their honest feelings hidden.  But it is for those actively seeking peace and seeking to become peacemakers.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

Be brave.  Be a peacemaker today.  Be a peace giver.

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