The second week of Advent offers a closer look at something everyone would say that they desire, peace. While most people claim a desire for peace in the world, it is something that seems to be growing increasingly rare over time. Countries are at war with neighboring countries. Companies battle for greater market share. Families divide as husbands and wives come to believe that peace is unattainable.
In his groundbreaking talk referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that they are people who are known as peacemakers. To whatever extent peace is possible in our world, it must be made. Jesus himself came to earth as the Prince of Peace, and we are to serve his kingdom by bringing peace to life wherever we can.
So, can we make peace? Where do we begin? Here are a couple of thoughts:
Making peace begins with accepting peace
Jesus came to earth to offer peace with God. This is always where peace begins. Describing peacemakers, Tim Keller writes, “Peacemakers are people who, through making peace with God, have finally learned how to admit flaws and weakness, how to surrender their pride, how to love without the need to control every situation.”[i] When we accept the peace that God offers, he begins to do things in us that seem impossible: helps us admit flaws and weakness, teaches us to surrender our pride, and enables us to love without trying to control others. A person who practices those things will bring peace to whatever environment they inhabit.
Making peace will often mean giving up my “rights”
When someone has wronged us we have every right to be angry. Peace is not about refusing to admit wrongdoing. Peacemakers are very clear about what has led to the lack of peace that exists. We lie and are lied to. We seek our own benefit, even if it comes at a cost to others. People use us and take advantage when they can. Peace grows when I have a right to retaliate, to be angry, or hurt, but I choose to lay down that right in order to end the cycle of wrongdoing. While you can’t control how others treat you, you do have the choice of how you will treat them in return.
Peace isn’t always possible
Paul in a letter written to Christians in Rome encouraged them that , “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18, New International Version). It’s not always possible to live in peace with everyone. You can choose peace, and have others choose to act poorly. When someone continues to treat your poorly, being a peacemaker doesn’t mean that you have to continue to make yourself available to their mistreatment. Sometimes you have to put up a boundary that keeps you at a safe distance from those who continue to act in a toxic manner.
Making peace isn’t easy, but it’s one of the most important callings of all Christians. Peace is powerful , and can even be contagious. While others aren’t guaranteed to choose peace if you do, many times they will. Your commitment to peace has the potential to create a more peace-filled world.
[i] Keller, T (2016) Hidden Christmas. New York, NY: Viking