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!