Peacemaker or Peacekeeper?

We all know that as Christians, we are to be peacemakers, don’t we?  After all, as Jesus taught in the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God”  Matthew 5:9

However, I’ve always been a bit puzzled by this exhortation from 1 Peter:

“They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:11

 

How do you pursue peace?  The word “peace” makes us think “passive”  while “pursue” is active.  How do those two ideas mesh together?  Doesn’t being “peaceful” or peace-loving” simply mean abstaining from conflict?  Keeping our controversial opinions to ourselves?   Allowing others to have their way?

Well, there’s a time and place for those things.  We’re called to be forgiving, and if possible, Unoffendable.  We should look for the best in others, and let go of petty irritations.  However, a book I am currently reading (for all who wander by Robin Dance–I’ll be reviewing it later) has opened my eyes to the difference between peacemakers and peacekeepers.  We can keep the peace (often falsely) by avoiding, or we can find true peace by engaging.

Often we settle for “keeping the peace” when something upsets us by staying quiet or deciding to avoid the “offender.”  True reconciliation is found when we “pursue peace” by talking it out and trying to understand the person with whom we disagree.  In her book, Robin tells a personal story of a person who called her about a remark she had made — this person found that Robin did not mean the statement in the way she understood it.  Problem solved!  Peace was made.  If Robin’s friend had not decided to pursue peace, the situation could have festered, resulting in a broken relationship or worse.

Of course, in making peace, we should not approach one another confrontationally, or with anger.  We should keep an open mind, willing to listen and understand.  If we are in the wrong, we must do what we can to apologize and make things right.

God, through his Son, Jesus, is the ultimate peacemaker.  Instead of leaving us in our sins, He confronted the separation between us, doing all that was necessary for reconciliation.  If we are indeed His children, we must follow His example.  So, actively pursue peace — don’t just keep the peace, make peace!

 

 

 

Unoffendable

This week I took some books out of the library on forgiveness, so that I can immerse myself in our theme for the month.  The first one I picked up is Unoffendable by Brant Hansen, who is a Christian radio host.  His basic premise is that Christians should strive to become “unoffendable.”  In other words, we should have a mindset that allows us to forgive  others in advance.

 

Here’s a quote:

“Whenever there’s an injury to a relationship, a hurt, a broken heart, or even a broken thing, and you are willing to forgive, you are saying ‘I got this.  I’m going to pick up the bill for this.’

This is, of course, precisely what God has done for us.

Hansen is absolutely right:  we hear it every week in church when the pastor announces the forgiveness of our sins.  It’s not a reward for our confession, it’s a statement of what has already taken place.

When we give up our anger, Hansen says, we are making a sacrifice which allows us to love others in unexpected ways.  (Isn’t it amazing how our monthly themes are all fitting together?)  He also maintains that when we choose ahead of time, “before conversations, before meetings, before our day begins–to be unoffendable, we’re simply choosing humility.” When we give up our anger, when we put other first, when we admit that we don’t understand their feelings and motivations, we have come to the place where we can minister to and serve them.  Isn’t that what the Christian life is all about?

So what do you think?  Can you spend some time each morning praying to be unoffendable all da