"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9).
"If most of us are honest with ourselves, we know that there are many ways in which our hearts are not at peace. We are wounded, insecure, resentful and lonely, and this restlessness within us causes us to anxiously defend our actions and opinions, to control others and to seek after their love and praise at all costs."
— Jessica A. Wrobleski, "Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Living as Children of God" (Leaven, vol. 16, no. 54, 2008, p.161).
To make peace is to pacify…
Latin: Beati pacifici: quoniam filii dei vocabuntur.
Greek: Makarioi hoi eirēnopoiói, hoti autoi huioi theou klēthēsontai.
It’s something active, not passive.
Yes, the early church was pacifist—unanimously so, in its first three centuries.
They knew that fear, anger, and greed in the human heart are the causes of war.
Yet biblical pacifism is not passivism—nonchalant, aloof, uninvolved.
Pacifism means caring about peace in the world. Justin Martyr told the Roman emperor, “More than all other men, we are your helpers and allies in promoting peace.” — Justin Martyr, First Apology 12 (ANF 1.166).
Examples of peacemaking
The wise old woman of Abel (2 Sam 20:16-22). She averts destruction and carnage.
The apostles (Acts 6). They come up with a plan, but entrust its execution to those most invested. The result is demographic harmony.
James the brother of Jesus, at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15). Each side presents its viewpoint, they listen, and they compromise.
Even if we do our best to be respectful, gentle, and diplomatic, some will still consider us Christians as troublemakers.
If they rejected Jesus, they will not be happy with us, either (John 15:18).
Tertullus the lawyer accuses Paul in front of governor Felix: “For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5).
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Romans 12:18).
Yet peace is not the ultimate goal, since the truth divides (Matt 10:34).
Don't actively seek a quarrel, behave insensitively, or sow seeds of dissension.
Followers of Christ take no pleasure in controversy, or in proving others wrong. No triumphalist spirit.
Reject ideology and groups that promote violence. Jesus as peacemaker: Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).
When leaders are behaving egotistically or in ways that hurt Christian unity, speak up.
Jesus intervened when his own apostles were arrogant and jockeyed for position.
Paul spoke up when Peter crossed the line (Galatians 2:11).
Allow for a certain level of disagreement.
Sometimes good-hearted (and intelligent) Christians will disagree.
1 Cor 1:10 isn’t calling for uniformity of thought so much as unity of heart.
Let's watch ourselves:
Peace is ruined by insisting on our own way.
Or by arrogance: “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right, but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.” – Chesterton
Jesus expected us to do our best to work through disagreement—without acrimony (Matt 5:25-26; 18:15-20).
Let's demonstrate the peace of Christ in our hearts!
Douglas Jacoby, used with permission: