"Peacekeeper" or "Peacemaker?"
It amazes me how many people can misquote the Bible, even though they think they have memorized it correctly. Perhaps they want what they think it says to be true rather than what it really says.
In Matthew 5, Jesus addresses his closest disciples during The Sermon on the Mount. But, which of these things did He say? Blessed are the [Peacekeepers or Peacemakers:] for they shall be called the sons of God.
Today, too many Christians think that Jesus said peacekeepers. One of the greatest problems in the Christian church is that we have men and women who want to be peacekeepers rather than peacemakers. The same is true in our secular society. There are those politicians who think that keeping the peace is more important than making the peace.
A recent American President thought that he should receive the Nobel Peace Prize because he thought that he was a great Statesman. He thought this because he had kept the peace in various parts of the world. How did he accomplish this? He sent American troops to serve with troops of other countries and sit between two warring factions, such as in Kosovo. In contrast to him, the Presidents before and after him are decidedly peacemakers.
What is the problem with the peacekeeper way of thinking? The problem is that if those troops are removed, then the warring factions will simply start to kill each other again. Why?
The answer is simple. These troops did not make peace; they only kept the peace. It was a temporary situation, an artificial prevention of further killing. The problem that caused the situation was not addressed. The deep seated issues of religious warfare were not done away with. A lid had been put on top of a pressure cooker, but the steam had not been released. This ultimately leads to an explosion when the artificial restraint is removed. Ever seen a pressure cooker that let go when it wasnt supposed to?
We see the same thing occurring in the Church. Situations develop in a local church where you can see the cannons pointed across the aisles. People with decidedly different opinions sit on opposite sides of the aisle and wont look at each other, or glare across the aisle at each other.
How many pastors, preachers, deacons, ushers, choir members say things like:
Oh, we shouldnt talk about that, so and so might get offended.
Oh, we cant talk about that, so and so might leave the church.
Oh, we cant change that, so and sos aunt gave that to the church.
A peacekeeper always guides conversations away from the subjects that might cause strife. Peacekeepers are compromisers. They avoid confrontation at all costs. They are the inventors of the No Talk Rule. They are experts at changing the subject, preventing arguments and misdirecting the conversation. The peace achieved by a peacekeeper is a pretend peace, it is a momentary peace. This peace is outward, external and incapable of changing anyones heart or mind.
The result of the No Talk Rule actually allows wickedness to continue. It keeps dysfunctional families in abusive cycles. Peacekeeping may cause churches to avoid questioning sinful conduct.
The cure for all this is that peacemakers will step forward and say There is a problem here, and we need to solve it now! Peacemakers see a problem and immediately go to work to correct, reconcile and restore. They implement long lasting solutions.
When peacemakers do this, they are often accused of being unloving, judgmental, trouble makers, legalistic or intolerant. When a peacemaker points out an improper behavior they are all too often vilified and the guilty party is given a pass. John the Baptist was a peacemaker and he lost his head for calling sin, sin. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but He called the Pharisees a den of vipers, and they crucified Him. Most of the twelve Apostles were martyred because they pricked mens consciences.
Peacemakers do not keep their mouths shut when they see improper behavior. Rather they are the ones who are willing to expose wrong conduct. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 5:9:
Blessed are the Peacemakers: for they shall be called the sons of God.
He also said in Matthew 5:14:
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Jesus said that the sons and daughters of God do not hide their light under a basket; they set it on a hill as a beacon of righteousness. Jesus said, Let your light so shine so that men may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
In John 9, Jesus said that He was the light of the world while He was here; but, now that He is gone, we are to be the light of the world. We are in the light as He is the Light. Light and darkness cannot live together. Light always fills the void of darkness, for darkness is only the absence of light. Darkness has no substance; therefore, why should we be afraid of it? We are to shine His light into darkness so that those who are deceived may receive Truth.
In Matthew 5:13, Jesus speaks about those who are unwilling to shine His light of Truth:
You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under the foot of men [it is only good for paving streets].
Salt is good. It prevents spoilage by preventing decay by bacteria, fungi, etc. Ultraviolet light also kills bacteria. Salt and light are confrontational with their environment because both prevent decay.
Peacekeepers are loved because they just go around loving everybody, declaring that God is love. Peacekeepers forget that the God who is omni-loving is also the God who is omni-judicious.
In Ezekiel 3:18-19, God said in effect, peacekeepers will be held accountable for the sins of the wicked because they did not warn the wicked; while the peacemakers will not be held accountable because they have done what God told them to do and warned the wicked.
Peacemakers are confrontational, but they are confrontational in a loving way. Truth without love is harsh, but love without truth is compromise. The Apostle Paul said the things that he taught faithful men and women, they should go and teach others. Paul said the message doesnt change. (See also Matthew 5:19)
Peace is far more than the absence of conflict. Peace is the presence of righteousness. True peace produces a relationship that brings enemies together. You can stop fighting without righteousness, but you cannot live peaceably without righteousness. Righteousness puts an end to the desire to harm others. It ministers love that produces harmony. When a persons life has been redeemed through Gods forgiveness, and he experiences genuine love in his heart, then true peace can come to him.
One must read the Beatitudes and realize that if those who follow them are blessed, it must be because they stand out. It must be difficult to be a peacekeeper or why would the individual be singled out for a special blessing?
Being a peacemaker is a hard but necessary process because we are dealing with the hearts of men and women. People do not want to die to their own desires and they dont appreciate being confronted.
Peacemakers are pure in their motives. Isaiah said woe is me before he said woe unto you. They are willing to move into conflict even if their flesh doesnt want to, because they love God and His word above all else. Peacemakers exhort and rebuke with all longsuffering in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2-5) They are not appeasers. They will stand when others may be compromising in order that they may bring a lasting change. They are willing to expose heresy and lack of faith. Caleb and Joshua were peacemakers.
In John 15:18-20, Jesus spoke about how if the world hated and persecuted Him, the world would also hate and persecute His followers. When we are not being persecuted, then perhaps we are not following His teachings.
The question is do we love people enough to tell them the truth? Jesus did, and His only crime was in telling the world the Truth.
Peacemakers lead others to have peace with God. Peacemakers are willing to do the tough things. People who teach truth and apply it to the hearers lives are true peacemakers.
This ministry will always strive to be a peacemaking ministry. With your help we will continue to take the message of the Prince of Peace around the world.