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Faithful Living: Peace: Make it, don’t just love it
If we have no peace,
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other.
I stood in a grocery line, rather late one night this week, and watched a customer in front of me yank on her child’s arm as she moved up the line and harangue the checker when she believed a coupon discount was missed. While watching the scene I looked away and thought back to the day, long ago now, when my dad told me people choose rudeness when feeling weak. His wisdom provided insight, but did nothing to stop the tears that strangely fill my eyes when I observe someone behaving badly in public. I will always be surprised when people choose to make a scene rather than take a breath and consider civil ways to make things right.
I react this way because I am wired to be a peacemaker. I view this as both a blessing and a curse. When family members and coworkers, friends and neighbors work cohesively, I experience deep satisfaction.
My penchant for peacemaking challenges me when there is anger and misunderstanding and I know it’s essential I do my best to disarm the drama. When I witness conflict I frequently feel deep physical pain as well as an obligation to contribute to a positive solution, even though the process may create discomfort.
The New Testament frequently instructs readers on various ways to work peacefully and promises spiritual maturity as a reward. To many, however, peacemaking conjures up ideas I don’t believe God intended. I do not think God mixes peacemaking with peace loving, for example, as we so often do.
Peace lovers seek calm and solitude and resent those who like heat and tension and a good fight. While I value peaceful people and work to build peace into my own life on a daily basis, I have also known some to be so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good.
Peacemakers observe situations and ask God for guidance and strength as they encourage deeper, more committed relationships. Sometimes peacemakers avoid the fight. Other times they actually create it, knowing that with effort and work participants will reach a place of peace with each other. They seek to resolve conflict and bring people back into communion with each other.
According to Rick Warren, a pastor and best-selling author, our focus should stay on relationships and how we might be a part of reconciliation. To constantly seek resolution to problems rather than encouraging people to work toward understanding and respect, love and companionship, is to polarize people. After all, it is completely unrealistic to believe that people, after enough talk at best or fighting at worst, will eventually see matters eye to eye. It is impossible to gain a 100 percent consensus of opinion.
It is quite possible for people to love each other and still not share the same points of views on issues of little or great importance.
Let’s pray for wisdom and a desire for peace.
Reach Joan Bay Klope at firstname.lastname@example.org.