Growing up with an alcoholic parent, I learned quickly that conflict was not my friend! Countless Saturday nights I would lay in bed listening to my Dad and his brothers in a drunken brawl outside my bedroom window. On top of Dad’s drinking were the struggles between my parents regarding finances and Dad’s hatred for my Mom’s new found faith. My home life became more and more like navigating a minefield. The minute voices started to rise or conversations got heated, my stomach would react to what I knew would be coming next. Anxiety attacks became an everyday experience for me. Therefore, rare moments when the fighting, arguing, and yelling ceased became peace to me. So, I learned to avoid anything that would cause a conflict. I learned that the secret to keeping the peace was to shut down, withdraw and suppress – to become invisible.
I carried that misconception into my adulthood, into my marriage (that’s another story for another day) and into ministry. Then, five years ago, God gently revealed to me that I was a “peacekeeper” not a “peacemaker.” As His child, I needed to be the latter.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matt 5:9 NIV
Misconceptions Regarding Peace
Peace does not mean apathy or inaction.
The pursuit of peace requires action.
Peace does not mean absence of conflict, but rather, the presence of righteousness. When said to a friend, the Hebrew word “Shalom” (peace) means, “I desire for you all the righteousness and good God can give,” not “May you have no conflicts.” Shalom means wholeness and rightness in all relationships.
Peace is not a truce.
“A truce just says you don’t shoot for awhile. Peace comes when the truth is known, the issue is settled, and the parties embrace each other.” John MacArthur
What is a Peacekeeper?
Peacekeepers maintain truces, rather than deal with the underlying issues.
Peacekeepers avoid ANYTHING that could possibly cause tension or conflict. Therefore, they tend to compromise truth, avoiding topics that could rock the proverbial boat.
“Oh, we could never bring THAT up; someone might get offended!”
“People may leave our church if we touched on THAT topic.”
I am a recovering peacekeeper.
What is a Peacemaker?
One can only become a peacemaker after the first 6 Tudes2B are characterized your life.
A peacemaker is one who endeavours to prevent contention and strife by using their influence to reconcile families, friends, churches, and neighbourhoods, thus restoring unity.
Peacemakers are not quick to assume the other person is at fault. (Matt 7:3-5)
Peacemakers understand that conflict is a part of life. They understand that ALL conflict is not evil; that constructive conflict is sometimes necessary. They realize that sometimes, in order to achieve true peace, the proverbial boat needs to be rocked.
Peacemakers do not compromise truth for a truce (I Cor 11:18-19).
The world loves falsehood, so when it is faced with truth (the gospel) it causes strife. We have a message for the world. God is not their enemy. He loves them and wants a relationship with them (II Cor 5: 18-20). However, the world receives the gospel with indignation until they have found true peace.
Although the peace of God is available to everyone, it is not experienced by everyone.
Only those who become adopted sons will find true and lasting peace (Gal 4:5).
Peace is a central characteristic of God’s Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6). Therefore, members of God’s family and Kingdom are to be peacemakers.
Whenever we stand for truth, there will be conflict. We should never forgo truth to avoid discomfort.
This does not mean that one goes around looking for a good fight!
What is a Peace Breaker?
I am sure we all know someone who can be a bit too confrontational. They have an opinion on EVERYTHING and are glad to share it because they are convinced they are right. Sometimes, they speak without love or without understanding the circumstance, thus becoming peace breakers.
Yet, I can also be a peace breaker if I am overly sensitive and easily offended. I can break the peace when I am not willing to compromise and see another’s point of view.
I am a peace breaker if I cannot “agree to disagree” with someone and move on. I am a peace breaker if I allow the little irritations of life to turn into BIGGER issues than they need be.
It is about balance and discernment between when to speak, and when to be silent.
Remember, Jesus did not call us to be peacekeepers or peace breakers. He called us to the difficult task of peacemaking! (Matt 5:10)
Peacemakers are labelled as being judgemental, legalistic and intolerant for calling attention to sin and wrong that need to be addressed. John the Baptist lost his head for calling sin, sin. Jesus called the Pharisees a den of vipers. They crucified Him. Most of the twelve lost their lives because they stood against sin.
Truthfully, for me in my natural self, being a peacekeeper is more appealing than being a peacemaker.
However, our world, homes and churches are in a mess today because too many of God’s children choose to be peacekeepers or peace breakers rather than peacemakers.
Yes, I am a recovering peacekeeper who would rather be invisible than visible. But, with the indwelling, transforming, guiding and courage-inducing Holy Spirit, I can be the peacemaker God needs me to be!
How about YOU?