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Peacemaking: The Role of Kingdom Citizens

Greg E. Gifford, PhD, CBC



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blessed are the peacemakers_wide_t_ntChrist shocked the people of His time in many ways. You can almost feel the reverberations as He drops the bombshell of His inaugural address—the Sermon on the Mount. The Jews were expecting their liberator to come and free them from all political oppression. Yet, in Christ’s economy, He says that it’s not the avengers who are considered blessed; it is the peacemakers.What is a peacemaker and how do we make peace around us? I want to give you a few observations from Matthew 5:9, the first of which is that peace must be made. This might seem a bit obvious but as you read through Scripture you see that peace is generated. Christ made peace between God and us; God makes peace within us; we make peace with others. It is not something that naturally occurs and it is not simply the absence of hostilities.[1]

Which brings us to the second observation: to make peace doesn’t simply mean that there are no conflicts. Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.”[2] Rather, peace is much more than the cessation of conflicts; it is the presence of peace and the absence of conflict. It is a proactive attempt to contribute to the harmony around you.

How then do we make peace? How do we live out our identities as being sons of God (5:9b)? One of the best passages on how to make peace comes from Romans 12:14-21. I hope that you would take the time to read through it carefully and make some specific applications but I will highlight just three.

Look at verses 18-21 of Romans 12: “18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

The first aspect of being a peacemaker is to not avenge yourself. We see that in verse 19. I believe that once Paul says how do you live peaceably among yourselves he links that peacemaking to meekness. Remember, again, that meekness is not revealed in compliments but in conflict.

You want to know how to stoke the flames of conflict in your life? Try to make it all right personally. Try to be the judge and the jury. Seek to repay everyone for the wrongs they have committed against you. You will find that instead justice it will be a malicious cycle of vengeance. And some of you are so steeped in this process of retaliation that it’s hard for you to think of life any other way. Maybe someone hurts you and you withdraw from them or you explode in your retaliatory way. Wherever you are on that spectrum, the first step in making peace is to avoid avenging yourself. Why? Because God’s wrath is so much better.

The second aspect of peacemaking is to leave room for the wrath of God (v. 19). You and I don’t roll over to the wrongs committed against us. We are not wimpy punching bags. No, rather we commit ourselves to our God who is the Judge of all the earth. 1 Peter 2:23 says that when Christ was wronged, reviled, and suffering, He didn’t just wimp out. He didn’t take a peace at any price approach. No, He committed Himself to God who judges justly! We keep peace by leaving room for the righteous wrath of God. This is isn’t pacifism or being a coward! This is fighting to trust that God will settle accounts and He will do it better than you or I ever could.

The last principle to making peace is this: overcome evil with good (v. 21). God has designed for Christians to overcome evil by doing what honors Him. Not by overpowering. Not by outsmarting. Not by outlasting. This is not the Counte of Monte Cristo and you are not Edmond Dantès. No, just the opposite is true. He says when you are wronged repay that wrong for right. When you are wronged, you repay that evil with good. If you want to be a peacemaker, then you have to be one who is ready to overcome evil with good.

[1] Cf. Jay Adam’s, How to Help People with Conflict: Becoming a Biblical Peacemaker (Stanley, NC: Timeless Text, 2005), 7.

[2] Mark Water, ed., The New Encyclopedia of Christian Illustrations (Nashville: Baker, 2000), 717.

"God may be looked upon in an absolute consideration, as he is in himself the best and most excellent being, wherein we behold the concurrence of all perfections, the most amiable and beauteous excellences, to an intellectual eye, that it can have an apprehension of." --John Howe, On Delighting in God
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