Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
– Matthew 5:7
Ultimately, we can accomplish two things in our relationships: we either bring people together or we break them apart.
The tools that are available for breaking apart relationships are numerous. They range from slander, gossip, and hurt-filled acts of passive-aggression to assault rifles, lawsuits, and thermonuclear devices.
Pick your poison. Its not difficult to sabotage human relationships, including your own relationships, if you work at it hard enough. Some of us don’t even have to try very hard to get the job done. We have relationship-destroying behaviors built into our psychological makeup.
But peacemakers – people who are truly gifted in bringing harmony and reconciliation to broken relationships – are more than folks who are doing something that God asks. They are more than ambassadors who speak for God. They are his children.
The way of God is the way of peace. It is this simple: God is present when people are at peace with each other, and he is absent when they are not. To bring people together is to do the very work of God.
Which brings me to my rant for the day.
I’m not an absolute pacifist. But – if you are a pacifist – I’m usually leaning in your direction. Christians and churches who become cheerleaders and flag-wavers for war just don’t get it. At the very least, we should be profoundly saddened when our government concludes that war is necessary – and always, always we should be a voice that advocates the return of peace as quickly and as certainly as is possible.
Yet a lot of us have become experts at hatred – not just of the sort that leads to bloodshed, but of all sorts: hatred of expecting mothers who are making difficult, confused choices, hatred of people with sexual orientations that offend us, and hatred of people who advocate policies that actually protect and care for God’s creation.
If I could identify the single most colossal failure of conservative protestants in America, it would be just this: we are no longer people of peace. We are bunkered down within our increasingly small margin of society, (literally) broadcasting our disapproval of everything from Islam to gay rights to every corner of the earth.
God’s love is important in theory. But all we seem to be concerned with is making sure that everyone’s sin (as we would define it) is neatly and properly labeled.
We may be experts in the theology of love, but we have perfected the speech of hatred – hatred that is tearing apart the relationships between Christians and the rest of the world.
Luke’s account of the life of Jesus tells us that he once spoke these words:
When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.
The despirate need of our generation is to re-discover this way of announcing God’s kingdom – a way which tells everyone that, whoever they are, whatever they do, with us – and with God – they can be at peace.