Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Pledging to be a peacemaker and seeking to put peace into practice instead of just letting it remain a principle may be a pretty tall order but how different would our world be if we would all pledge to be peacemakers? In his book “The Peacemaker” Ken Sande provides the following pledge that I have found particularly helpful in my life.
As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict (Matthew 5:9; Luke 6:27-36; Galatians 5:19-26). We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ (Romans 8:28-29; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; James 1:2-4). Therefore, in response to God’s love and in reliance on his grace, we commit ourselves to respond to conflict according to the following principles:
- Glorify God
Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will rejoice in the Lord and bring him praise by depending on his forgiveness, wisdom, power, and love, as we seek to faithfully obey his commands and maintain a loving, merciful, and forgiving attitude (Psalm 37:1-6; Mark 11:25; John 14:15; Romans 12:17-21; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 4:2-9; Colossians 3:1-4; James 3:17-18, 4:1-3; 1 Peter 2:12).
- Get the Log out of Your Own Eye
Instead of blaming others for a conflict or resisting correction, we will trust in God’s mercy and take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts—confessing our sins to those we have wronged, asking God to help us change any attitudes and habits that lead to conflict, and seeking to repair any harm we have caused (Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 19:8; Colossians 3:5-14; 1 John 1:8-9).
- Gently Restore
Instead of pretending that conflict doesn’t exist or talking about others behind their backs, we will overlook minor offenses or we will talk personally and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook, seeking to restore them rather than condemn them. When a conflict with a Christian brother or sister cannot be resolved in private, we will ask others in the body of Christ to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner (Proverbs 19:11; Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 6:1-8; Galatians 6:1-2; Ephesians 4:29; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; James 5:9).
- Go and be reconciled
Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to wither, we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation—forgiving others as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us, and seeking just and mutually beneficial solutions to our differences (Matthew 5:23-24, 6:12, 7:12; Ephesians 4:1-3, 32; Philippians 2:3-4). By God’s grace, we will apply these principles as a matter of stewardship, realizing that conflict is an assignment, not an accident. We will remember that success in God’s eyes is not a matter of specific results, but of faithful, dependent obedience. And we will pray that our service as peacemakers will bring praise to our Lord and lead others to know His infinite love (Matthew 25:14-21; John 13:34-35; Romans 12:18; 1 Peter 2:19, 4:19).
I want to challenge you as we start this New Year to make peace a part of your resolution. Take some time to read through and study the scripture passages that are referenced, pray through the pledge, and then I want to invite you to join me in pledging to be a peacemaker and pursuing God’s plan of peace. Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the war and the hate we see in the world around us and feel like what we are doing to pursue peace is pointless. We question whether one person can even make a difference. Well Church historian Theodoret tells us about Telemachus a man who pursue peace and tried to stop a gladiatorial fight in a Roman amphitheater. Telemachus was a monk who lived in the 4th century and upon arriving in Rome found the streets thronged with excited people. When he asked why everyone was so excited he was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting and killing each other in the coliseum. He thought to himself, “Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?” So he ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators shouting, “Hail to Caesar, we die for Caesar” and he thought, “this is wrong.” So he jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, held up his hands and said, “In the name of Christ, forbear.” The crowd protested and began to shout, “Run him through. Run him through.” A gladiator came over and hit him in the stomach with the back of his sword. It sent him sprawling in the sand. He got up and ran back and again said, “In the name of Christ, forbear.” The crowd continued to chant, “Run him through.” One gladiator came over and plunged his sword through the little monk’s stomach and he fell into the sand, which began to turn crimson with his blood. One last time he gasped out, “In the name of Christ forbear.” A hush came over the 80,000 seat coliseum. Soon a man stood and left, then another and then more, and then the whole arena emptied out. It was the last known gladiatorial contest in the history of Rome for the Emperor Honorius was so impressed by the monk’s martyrdom that he issue a historic ban on gladiatorial fights. There is a cost to chasing peace but one person pursuing peace can make a difference. Jesus died on a cruel rugged cross to make peace for us. His blood was shed so that we might know the meaning of eternal peace. In order to be identified as a child of God, we should be willing to do no less. Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power and Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Interestingly as Paul lists out the armor we are to wear in verse 15 it says, “for shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” Putting on peace is not what one would normally think of when it comes to preparing for battle, it’s the opposite of what the world wants to do. But if we want to pursue peace then we have to put God’s plan into action. Are you participating in God’s peace plan? What shoes are you wearing, are your feet shod with the gospel of peace? The footprints we leave behind as believers should be impressions of peace. What footprints are you leaving on this world, ones of war or peace?