“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).
In India, we often assume peacemaking is peacekeeping, but they are not the same thing. We prefer peacekeeping to avoid arguments because we assume conflict is undesirable, unpredictable, and uncomfortable—something shameful or even sinful.
Peacekeeping Is Unwise
Peacekeeping is when we keep our feelings suppressed, we keep our thoughts repressed, and we keep our tongues stuck to the roof of our mouths because we might say the wrong thing and end up in an unwanted conflict.
But conflict is not a sin, anger is not evil, and making right judgments is not bad judgment. Such judgment is often the pathway to making peace. Truth is not painless, honesty is not easy, and facing reality does not come naturally. Therefore, peace is made; sometimes by going through conflict, not by sidestepping it.
Peacekeeping is the safe choice but it is not the wise one.
Peacemaking Is Difficult
Furthermore, peace does not assume the absence of conflict. Unity comes from making peace out of conflict. Peacemaking is often ugliness that leads to beauty. Peacemakers walk the difficult way of grace and truth. They face reality without flinching and go through the painful but necessary path of conflict to make peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers, not the peacekeepers.
God does not command us to be quiet and listen, refuse to speak, and never move towards anger. He commands us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry (James 5:9). Anger is not something to fear but something to control. God commands us to go to anger slowly and to get through it without sinning (Eph. 4:26).
Peacemaking takes time. We cannot avoid it, as we tend to do in India, nor can we rush into it. Sometimes we need to simply bear with one another (Eph. 4:2), pray sincerely, and wait patiently for the right opportunity to move towards peace, knowing the outcome is not always in our hands (Rom. 12:18).
Peacemakers are always asking themselves peacemaking questions “When am I tempted to keep the peace? Where do I need to prayerfully make peace? How do I need to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3)?”
Peacemaking is Ugly Before it is Beautiful
God’s anger is not an emotional outburst or a fit of rage. It is righteous action towards setting things right. God’s anger moved him towards peacemaking. He is the ultimate peacemaker. Only God’s anger—righteous actions towards setting things right—can make a lasting peace, the kind we now enjoy with God through Christ.
Every child of God was adopted. All God’s children were once his enemies. Each of us was by nature deserving of his anger. Yet all God’s children are beneficiaries of his mercy because he sought to make peace with us through Christ who bore the weight of his anger—God’s great righteous action to set things right.
As the apostle Paul says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph. 2:14-16).
Jesus made something by breaking something. He made the two one by breaking the dividing wall of hostility.
Jesus makes something by killing something. He makes peace by killing our hostility.
He broke down a wall and killed hostility by offering his flesh to be broken, his body to be killed. Peacemaking is ugly before it is beautiful. It is as ugly as the cross before it becomes as beautiful as union with God.
He himself is our peace.