I feel like God has given me a voice and a will to be heard, but I don’t really use this gift appropriately. While I do stand up for those persecuted and unable to speak for themselves on occasion, the majority of the time I stand up for myself against those who perpetuate poor customer service against me. Sad but true.
I have been convicted lately to try to be more of a peacemaker. Peacemaker. What does it mean? To be quiet? Roll over? I don’t think so. I believe the function of a peacemaker is more closely related to smoothing out concrete than it is to being a doormat. When pouring concrete, a straightedge is slid across the wet mixture to removes excess concrete creating the proper flatness and grade prior to drying.
I believe that standing up for what you believe in and for what’s right is a part of being a peacemaker. If we don’t speak up, then there is no chance to grow. No one gets better without guidance and constructive criticism, even ourselves. Self-awareness of flaws or, to put a more positive spin on it, life teaching points are essential to personal growth. We cannot smooth out with a straightedge what we don’t know exists.
Hebrews 12:11-14 (ESV) says it like this, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” I think that part of creating peace in our lives is by making room for correction and offering constructive critiques in a loving way when appropriate.
We are no closer to peace when we say to ourselves, “Why do they do that? Look at the feelings they are cultivating,” and do nothing.
I think another attribute of a peacemaker is closeness with God. When we are sanctified and become more Christ-like, then we grow peace. Isaiah 32:16-18 reads, “Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. 17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. 18 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” The prophet Isaiah teaches that to be righteous is to foster peace.
Finally, Romans 12:15-18 notes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Peace comes from humility and in relationship with others. While being alone can seem peaceful, true harmony can only be generated in conjunction with community.
So, ultimately, I consider peacekeeping different than peacemaking. In my opinion, it’s easier to be quiet and let unrest continue than to forge ahead creating peace when necessary. I think that to be a peacemaker requires the removal of something, the smoothing over of a rough edge. Peacemaking involves awareness of your own relationship with God and intentionally devoting time to righteousness.