INTERSECT: Peacemakers and Pacesetters
Have you ever seen conflict erupt at church? At one church in my hometown, conflict became so intense chairs were thrown during a business meeting. The local church should be the one place in the entire community people learn to deal effectively and graciously with conflict. Sadly, many times they see only the conflict.
We also may have experienced different forms of conflict in our homes. How did your parents deal with conflict?
A person may tend to follow those same patterns of conflict resolution. If parents scream and yell, their children conclude conflicts are only hashed out through screaming and yelling. On the other hand, if parents bottle everything up and ignore problems, their children often do the same during relationship problems.
Conflict is a reality of human experience. It is not a question of if we will have conflict. It is a question of when we will have conflict. Conflict can be traced to the Fall of Adam and Eve, and it will continue to be part of the human experience until the return of Christ. The question we must answer is: How will we deal with conflict?
Jesus wants us to learn to be peacemakers. Making peace with others doesn’t mean we ignore relational problems or gloss over them. However, in this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us as His followers to practice peacemaking.
Kingdom Characteristic. This verse is one of the Beatitudes Jesus shared with His disciples and to those listening in the crowd. We must remember these pronouncements of Jesus are not entry requirements into the Kingdom of God, but they are characteristics of those already in His Kingdom. Peacemaking is (or should be) characteristic of those who follow Jesus.
Peacemaking Blessings. Each one of the beatitudes begins with the word blessed or happy. When we follow God’s Kingdom plan, we discover His ways are blessed. Our happiness and joy are tied to living as Kingdom citizens. If we desire God’s blessing, then it comes as we are faithful to be peacemakers.
Peacemaking God. We are to be peacemakers because this is the nature of God Himself. He has taken the initiative to reach out to us—to those at odds with Him. He has offered peace through the blood of His own Son. Those who believe are no longer in conflict with God but have been brought into a relationship with Him through Christ.
Personal Application: Of course, making peace with others isn’t easy. It forces us to ask questions like, “Am I in conflict with anyone? If so, what is preventing reconciliation?” While we cannot control how the other party will respond, we certainly can control our own attitude, words, and actions. We can exert leadership in our local church by taking the lead and setting the pace when it comes to conflict resolution and peace.
About the Columnist: Dr. Barry Raper is program coordinator for ministry studies at Welch College and pastor of Bethel FWB Church near Ashland City, Tennessee.