One of my closest friends and I were texting about whether she should confront someone about a hurtful thing they’d said behind her back. She’s a firecracker, so I was surprised when I started to sense she was doubting herself. Was she being too sensitive? Making a big fuss over nothing? Being a troublemaker?
I texted back, tapping hard at my phone screen, We’re called by God to be peaceMAKERS. Not peaceKEEPERS. Keeping our mouths shut and going with the flow is not peace. But you’re not like that. You see something that’s wrong, and you say something about it. I admire that about you so much.
I text a good game, but if being honest with myself, I fall into the peacekeeper category far too often. But Jesus taught in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
The Greek word translated as peacemakers is eirenopois, which is borne of two root words: eirene, which means peace, and poieo, which means to do, make, bring forth, cause, work, deal and perform.
It’s almost oxymoronic, right? Peace is won through an awful lot of un-peaceful activity — by engaging rather than walking by, by saying something rather than staying silent.
To model one’s life after Jesus is to mimic a man who did not stand down from conflict in the name of peacekeeping. Indeed, He stirred up conflict wherever He went! I imagine Jesus realized that in order to ignite conversations about what genuine peace with God looked like, He would have to rattle a few cages and disrupt the status quo in order to shine a light on its shaky (and sometimes rotting) foundation.
In my relationships, at work, or with something happening out in the world, I have oft eschewed conflict altogether, for fear of looking like a hot-headed troublemaker. It feels easier to bite my tongue, keep walking, or keep scrolling. I don’t have the bandwidth for this, I say to myself. I don’t want to ruin this relationship over this. It would cost too much. It’s too uncomfortable.
Other times, if I’m honest, it feels like it would hurt too much. I think of the passage in Ezekiel 36:26 that talks about the heart of stone, and while I’ve always thought of it as a heart deadened into callousness, I now wonder if it could also be a heart that’s so scared to be hurt again it encircles itself in stone.
Either way, in Christ, we are a new creation, reborn with hearts of flesh. We are to live lives modeled after Jesus, a man of sorrow. His heart was constantly wounded by what He saw us doing to each other, to God. Nevertheless, He persisted in making peace — as should we.
So how do we know when to turn the other cheek and when to raise our voice? When I look at Jesus, it appears that what motivated Him was not merely bringing peace between human beings. Jesus was motivated by the need to reconcile human beings with God, to repair the breach that had opened up in the Garden of Eden. His goal was to bring us to into shalom — a whole, complete peace with our Creator. In every circumstance, Jesus zoomed out from the earthly matter at hand to the God’s-eye view of humanity.
Perhaps that should guide us in our peacemaking. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, What is the larger issue here? How can we bring Jesus, the Prince of Peace, into the chaos and strife?
For me, that means using my voice to speak up but to also pray for those on the other side, those who might curse me for saying what I believe to be right. Praying for those who might come in opposition has brought me great comfort when I feel like there’s nothing more I can say. I pray that their eyes would be opened or that mine would be opened if I am seeing the issue wrongly. When Scripture bids us to bless those who curse or persecute us, it’s asking us to bring God into their proximity. And perhaps the most powerful way we can do that is to pray for them.
When trepidation deadbolts my lips, when fear of being ostracized grips my heart, I turn my eyes to the cross. Here was the ultimate act of peacemaking: Bridging the divide between heaven and earth was so important to Jesus that it cost Him everything. He was mocked, called a heretic, hunted down, betrayed, tortured, and eventually killed. He paid for our peace with His life, dignity, and for a little while, even His direct connection to the Father. If He was willing to pay that kind of price, surely I can stomach a little discomfort.
I look at how Jesus poured into everyone He encountered — fully, honestly, sinlessly — and yet nearly every one of them turned their backs on Him toward the end of His life. And then I look at my life, where I won’t risk even one relationship in the name of truth. I think of conversations about things I knew were spiritually dangerous (tarot cards, psychics, and mediums) where I knew I should speak up, but I just looked at my phone, hoping the conversation would change. I think of the time when someone talked to my child disrespectfully, and I wasn’t fierce enough in my retort to her. I remember when someone I knew posted something I found personally offensive but refrained from talking to her about it lest she’d think I was one of “those” weirdos. Oh man. My heart of flesh needs a hefty dose of courage.
I don’t have many answers for you, my friends. All I know is that we have to get better at peacemaking, at getting dirty and bruised in the name of peacemaking. But I don’t think we can get better without practicing, and the only way to practice is to do the dang thing, step into the fray, speak with grace seasoned with salt, and fly the banner of the Prince of Peace. He calls us His own, and He’s gone ahead of us. We can bear the pain and discomfort of hard conversations if it brings our neighbors even an inch closer to Him.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
I am challenged by your words this am! So content to pursue only temporary peace on the earthy plane I ignore the greater heavenly peace that lasts on the eternal plane. If we were all pursuing the Prince of Peace the earthly plane would be more peaceful in some areas & worth the battle where it isn’t peaceful at the moment. Thanks for your encouragement & challenge to me this am!
Aarti Sequeira says
Ah you put it so well!
Wow, this is amazing. So much to think about. I need to take stock at my behavior and see which category I fall into- maybe a little of both. I do know with certain topics of discussion I do walk away rather than engage with someone using the excuse that it is futile to get into a discussion.
Aarti Sequeira says
I do that too. And I do struggle with knowing which battles to fight and which ones to ignore.
Sharon A says
Amen! I think one of the big challenges is to temper those conversations with love. Thanks for a timely needed reminder! I definitely want to be a peacemaker.
Something to be in prayer about for sure
Barbara Jo Warner says
I was invited to a movie night with my Life Group. They chose the movie “The Shack.” I debated back and forth about saying how I believe that this is not a God honoring movie, because God I’d depicted by a woman. I might just have opened a “can of worms here,” but with all the new age stuff in the church, God as a woman? Thankfully, the event was canceled due to the COVID statistics. I am still unsure of how to relate on this.
Peacemaking vs peacekeeping….I have never even thought of the difference! Thanks for giving me a new, EXCELLENT, perspective today!
These words come at just the right time as we are navigating something difficult with one of my daughters who experienced a racist comment at school. I was just saying yesterday that she has the heart of a peaceMAKER. I love the way you highlighted this same nuance. Taking your call to courage with us today as we face another school day and meetings on this issue. Grateful for the timing of your piece.
Vanessia L Steelman says
Wow! This was so very enlightening to me. I have always seen myself as a “peacemaker” when in reality, I’m a peacekeeper. Thank you for showing me the difference. This is a gamechanger. What a challenge. Thank you again.
Aarti, interesting perspective here. Food for thought. I will ponder what it means for me.
kim h says
Wow. This is so relevant and so pertinent. The Biblical truth paired with your insight is a beautiful reminder that it’s not okay for us to idly stand by. I often feel like when we are supposed to choose love, we often mistake that as silence.
Thank you Aarti
Well said. I pray that God grants me the discernment to speak up and speak out when needed. The wisdom to be quiet as a peacemaker and peacekeeper. Thank you for sharing this. My soul needed this.
Becky Keife says
PREACH, my friend! Yes!! If Jesus could love fully, extend grace lavishly and speak the truth, by His power, we can too. I’m ready to trip and stumble through it with you.
Thank you for the insight into the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping. The first seems active while the second is passive and I will be pondering this and try try to be more active in bringing peace.
Ugh. I talk soooooo much junk. I don’t think I’d actually stand up to anyone unless it was for my kids. I’m a “keep your head down” person through and through.
This is “fresh manna” for me, insight I hadn’t seen before. Thank you! Peacemaking definitely corresponds with our calling as Soldiers of Jesus in the Eternal War against our Enemy! Soldiers fight to ultimately bring Peace.
Just love this! Praying the grace and mercy of God will give us all strength to be peacemakers.
Janet Hall says
Aarti, your words are always an inspiration to me. I have always loved seeing you at work, but I love it even more reading words from your heart about our Jesus. God bless and keep you dear Aarti.
Mearla VanDenBerg says
I’ve recently been terribly hurt by people that I trusted. What was yelled at me during my continuing recovery from a terrible accident, when I have needed emotional support the most, continues to steal my peace & joy.
They are my neighbors, two doors down, who have always been supportive of me in the past. How can I continue to be friends with them or trust them when what was yelled to me spoke what I believe to be their true feelings about & view of me, & has caused me to question my value?
I was not given a moment to defend myself & I continue to desire to do so in a strong way. However, I have chosen to act as if they never yelled those terrible things at me & to go out of my way to love them without responding in kind.
They said that they were saying & doing those things because they love me, but it was not love. Love does not seek to completely destroy another person verbally in the name of love.
I continue to wrestle with how to deal with this situation & pray that God will work through me in spite of the circumstances or because of the circumstances.
Tanya R Brown says
I’m sorry to hear that those who chose what they may call “tough love” did it ill advised. Sometimes people want others to get better for their benefit. They miss what was! Sometimes people want credit for that person’s recovery. So they can tell the story! I understand the loss of trust. It is hard to shake, so you must trust yourself to recover from the hurt, to BE the friend you want to be to them and others without fear of being hurt again. Blessing!
Thank you for your courage to live in such a way that evidently stands out to others! You shine! I’m not sure any of us do “peacemaking” well every time, but it’s a humbling and lifelong journey of learning, sharing, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Lori Dumas says
This is exactly how I feel (except some of the words were more elequint for my lingo ! Can I share this. I feel like being more bold myself. And Aarti you hit the nail on the head. I am in agreement with all of what you said. And it especially rings true in the last 2 years where I feel such divide in our belief systems in this country…. And the world. Thank you so much for this. You are a beautiful writer ❤️❤️️!!
So much yes!! We must do the dang thing and speak up when we know we should…. Even if it could cost us. I feel I have done this in fits and starts, and sometimes without the hefty dose of love that was a necessary part of the equation. Finding that balance of speaking up, doing it with love, knowing what is true and showing grace to those we are entering into conflict with is going to take practice. It is a very tall order.
Beautiful- we are the salt and light – being peaceful and being a peacemaker are such different things that I use to confuse . Thank you for taking time to do this .
Shalom and L’Chaim
Thank you! I needed that encouragement as I struggle with confronting real issues and being a peacemaker! Being a peacemaker not a peacekeeper is my answer!!
Tina Wetterau says
I really need this! So beautifully honest and true. Thank you!
Tanya R Brown says
Far too often we think it’s the mature thing to do when we “rise above” the fray, yet Jesus fought for us and we should fight for each other to know “the truth” of a thing, to correct that which will bring others closer to Jesus, to bring those we love into wholeness. We are called to correct, sometimes with a rebuke, but mostly in gentleness because we too are subject to missing the mark. We must be willing to lose a friend to gain our sister, our brother for the kingdom of God sake. One friend turns another. Your voice travels from one person to another and so on, let that voice be for the good of all!
Beth Williams says
Such powerful words. You give me so much to think about. I am guilty of keeping my mouth shut. Mostly because I don’t now enough about the situation. There are times I want to just open up & spew out truth. Have the hard conversations, maybe make some made, but in the end make them think & hopefully bring Jesus to them.