Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Making peace: challenge and disruption    (3/9/2014 1)

2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, and I am old enough to remember the sound of bombs falling on London in the Second World War.

As we are reminded of the horrors of those wars; as we think of the refugee crises and the suffering of the people of Syria and the Central Africa Republic today; as we watch the unfolding events and dangers in Ukraine, we might well feel how very, very precious is the gift of peace.

It’s not surprising, then, that Jesus lists peacemaking as one of his 9 ingredients for the Good Life.

"Blessed are the peacemakers," he says, "God will call them his children!"

They're the kind of offspring God has always wanted - the good guys! Jesus, God’s son, came with that same mission: to be Prince of Peace; to bring peace with God and to break down barriers between races, nations and families.

Peacemakers are activists. They may well have to go out on a limb and take risks to make peace. Peacemakers don’t just calm things down; they work for justice and reconciliation and well-being. Peacemakers are concerned for underdogs, for victims, for the abused.

But peacemakers can be challenging and disruptive. Peacemakers don’t lie down under threats and bullying. Peacemakers are on God’s side for the good of all.

Like last week’s call for purity, this one’s a tough call, too. Am I prepared to inconvenience myself so that God’s peace will come into situations of conflict - at home, work, in politics, in a community, between nations? And if that sounds too grand, what about bringing just a bit of peace, somewhere?

Anger is often the opposite of peacemaking, but it can work two ways. It can be divisive and destructive, a shatterer of peace. Or it can it can be a passion for justice, a longing that wrong situations are put right. It depends where it comes from and where it is going. Anger that comes from a peace-full heart may actually produce peace. Anger that comes out of bitterness can destroy not only the person themselves, but others as well.

Which begs the question - am I a person of peace? Am I not only a peacemaker and a peacekeeper, but at peace with God, at peace with myself, at peace with the world? God, the loving creator, wants children who breathe peace.

One of the greatest of peacemakers in our own generation was Nelson Mandela. His anger at the injustices of apartheid in South Africa was tempered to become the creative power of reconciliation, peacemaking and nation-building. One of the key moments for his being a person of peace was on his release from 27 years of imprisonment in 1990, about which he said - “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

He also said - “I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.” That kind of dream is in line with the dreams of Jesus, with the will of God, and with the heart of all peacemakers. As Mandela brought peace to South Africa, as Jesus brings peace to homes and hearts, can you and I be agents of peace, too?

Prayer: Jesus, you gave yourself in death to bring peace. Thank you for the forgiveness which brings peace with God, which wipes the slate clean and brings peace deeply into my heart. Help me to receive it and to be a person of peace and an agent of peace in your world. Amen.

Think about: Peace has a price. Many people have paid the ultimate price for peace. Why is peace so costly and so elusive? Isn’t it what everyone wants?

Challenge: Peace is a great ideal. Is there something you could do today to make it a reality?

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