Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.
Conflict is so common in our culture that we barely notice it anymore. But simmering anger soon turns into destructive bitterness, hatred, and the desire to take revenge, which destroy relationships. Some of us use more subtle means to hurt others. We put them down, and when they challenge us we say, “Hey I was only kidding!” Yeah, right.
In conflict, some of us clench our fists, raise our voices, make demands, and try to intimidate people. Others look down to avoid eye contact, barely mumble above a whisper, and give in to stop the argument. Neither of these poses, though, builds bridges of trust and understanding.
A peacemaker is someone who treasures relationships based on mutual respect and works hard to help people take steps in that direction. In some cases, a simple misunderstanding can be resolved fairly easily, but longstanding, deep wounds take time and attention to heal. Gradually, suspicion turns to understanding, and bitterness gives way to forgiveness.
When we’ve benefited from a peacemaker who stepped in to build bridges between us and someone we’ve despised, we are amazed and grateful for the peacemaker’s work. Peacemakers are, indeed, “sons of God,” who follow the pattern of the Prince of Peace by offering hope, trust, and relief to people whose relationships have been shredded by hatred.
The meek man will attain a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness, he will be happy to let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found a peace which meekness brings.
A. W. Tozer
Conflict is usually two individuals or groups who are sure they are right, whether in matters concerning life, politics or religion. Conflict occurs when two objects or people wish to occupy the same place at the same time. It is nothing unusual. As a matter of fact the Bible says that those who practice sin are in conflict with God. It goers as far to say that they are the enemies of God. Sin created a division between God and man, an almost impenetrable barrier. Our sinful state forbid our acceptance into the holy presence of God. We needed someone to build a bridge, someone to reconcile us with God, someone to break down the wall between us and God so He sent His Son. The Bible tells us that the Old Testament believers lived with a veil that hung between them and God. No one could pass through the veil except the night priest and he could only after an elaborate process of purification. Tradition says that the high priest wore bells on his robe and a rope tied around his ankle. If the bells stopped ringing, those on the outside knew he had died because of impurity. It was a serious matter to enter the presence of God. When Christ was crucified, the veil in the temple tore from top to bottom indicating that He has opened the way for us to come near God and for our conflict with God to be resolved. We have access only through Christ who serves as Mediator and Advocate, pleading our cause before the throne of God. Christ the Reconciler, brings us to God and paves the way for a relationship with God.
The apostle Paul tells us that as the people of God, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [so that by our example we might bring others to Him], that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them]. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation [that is, restoration to favor with God]. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20
There we have it. Since we have been reconciled to God by Christ, we now have been called to the “ministry of reconciliation.” Our role is to act as mediator between others and Christ. The idea of separation or wall-building or hated or division in not in keeping with the very character of God. The Bible says that Christ Himself “broke down the wall of the middle partition.” Those who are in Christ, then ought to do the ministry of reconciliation. The question peacemakers ask is whether the matter is so serious that there is no resolution. Now that may be the case with matters of theology or doctrine, but in truth very little conflict within the church is over such matters. Far too often it is about power and control over decision-making. Far too often the root is envy or jealously and the like. Far too often it is over trivial matters in the light of eternity. Far too often it is a matter of preferences rather than matters of importance.
Peacemakers are those who can discern what are matters that warrant conflict intervention and matters that insignificant.
As the church, we dare not make the trivial important nor make the important trivial. The message and the ministry given to the church by Jesus- Christ came to save the world and everybody must be told-must be what every other matter must be judged against. Unless conflict is affecting these then it is a matter best resolved by the two individuals who have created the conflict. As a matter of fact Christ gave us a pattern of conflict resolution. Peacemakers insist that reconciliation and consensus building are the tools used. They refuse to settle for some compromise or negotiation that leaves each party resentful with an unhealthy resolution. They refuse to let it be “swept under the rug” only to boil over later. They know that reconciliation must occur quickly and completely.
May we engage in the ministry of reconciliation as peacemakers and may those who know us know us as the “sons of God.”
Dr. John Thompson