Most people on the planet prefer peace in relationships, in finances and from government interference. Fortunately, peace is especially important to God. From His perspective peace is closely connected to the concept of reconciliation. Something that God has always desired for humanity. God tells us that those who develop the qualities of “peacemaker” will be blessed (Matthew 5:9). Individually we may have little to no power to influence peace between nations; however, we can have power to reconcile peacefully within our family, our extended family, and our neighbors.
A peacemaker can be defined as one who restores peace between people, one who actively works for reconciliation of broken relationships. It is about trying to restore the right relationships, however, it’s more than a textbook definition. It is more than the absence of hostile attitudes. Peace is, at first, a state of mind and then a state of being. It is how we “are” and how we act. We need to have altruistic goals.
Peaceful qualities are scripturally called “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23: “. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” The exercise of these qualities requires a change of attitude, a change in hearts and minds. Most of us would agree that all these “fruits” would be helpful to incorporate in our efforts to restore any broken relationship. Expressing anger and resentment won’t work.
Isaiah says that we actually “learn” war. “He [Christ] shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2.4).
What is truly impactful about this scripture is that they will not learn war. Bad attitudes and behaviors will not be learned anymore. It’s not the cessation of bad attitudes that bring peace, again it’s the overall state of the mind. Peace comes from the merging of God’s spiritual fruit into our own mindset. “. . .to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). This is an academic rendering. God intends that we bring peace in our lives by practical application. We should be practicing peace-making in our everyday lives, in our relationships and, especially in our attitudes. It should be a natural part of our lives.
Although humankind started a bit off-center through Adam and Eve, it was God’s intent that they would be guided willingly to a peaceful condition for the sake of all humankind. The Apostle Paul wrote of God’s intention to reconcile everything to Himself by Jesus Christ. “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19–20).
There is a connection between reconciliation and peace and the sacrifice of Christ. This reconciliation is total, all encompassing, and comprises everything. God’s over-arching purpose is to bring everything together again in peace. Therefore, we too should individually be aligned in peace: “… we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Notice, Paul is not berating the members in Corinth, rather his approach is gentle. He speaks by pleading and imploring us to be reconciled to God. Could it be that he is following God’s example? God does not coerce us, yet there will eventually be a penalty for sin. Every time we do sin, He doesn’t appear before us and force us to do the right thing or to repent. That is because God is long-suffering, patient. God created us as free moral agents. He wants us to develop righteous character and for that, we need God’s help. With His help, we can successively exercise the will to do what is right. Without the opportunity to have a decision, we cannot develop the mind-set and the character to choose to live God’s way of peace. In understanding this, we can see that becoming a peacemaker is part of the conversion process.
As we look at our lives can we say that we are peacemakers? Is our attitude and orientation toward peace or is it arguing with people contentiously to prove ourselves right? Part of pursuing peace is giving people some space. We’ve all met people who don’t give us physical space. What about crowding up on someone’s mental or emotional space? What about crossing over into someone’s spiritual space? Do we feel that this approach would make for peace? After all, we all have standards. Can we have a tolerant and patient frame of mind while maintaining those standards? Tolerance and respect for others, wherever they may be on their journey in life, is very important in having a good relationship with people.
We are to “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12.14). This statement should be sobering as the instruction includes all with whom we come into contact. An attitude of peacemaking is essential to produce the fruit of righteousness: “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3.18).
We have all had some very troubling times in the last few years. We have seen many trials and experienced many painful circumstances with Covid-19. When we seek God and choose to exercise His “fruit of the Spirit” He will strengthen us in His qualities that produce peace. Choose peace!