Peacekeepers or Peacemakers?
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Rom. 12:17, NIV)
There is a big difference between peacekeepers and peacemakers.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines peacekeeping as “the preservation of peace; especially international enforcement and supervision of a truce between hostile states of communities.”
During my years in Seoul, I was very grateful for those men and women who served as peacekeepers. Members of both the United States and Korean military attended our church. Their presence and vigilance reassured us against the ongoing threats coming from our neighbor just thirty-five miles to the north.
Peacekeepers focus on the preservation of peace through power and enforcement. They play a necessary role in our hostile world. Peacemakers, however, are citizens of God’s kingdom, a kingdom in, but not of, this world — their focus is on a real and lasting peace. A peace found only in Jesus Christ.
“My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, I give to you.” (John 14:27, ESV) These words of Jesus mark the difference between worldly peace and the peace he offers. Worldly peace is a forced peace, an outward peace, a peace that simply manages hostilities. But the peace that is found in Christ destroys barriers and hostilities, and, in the words of Ephesians 2:15, makes “one new man in place of the two.”
It’s not easy being a peacemaker. That’s because peacemakers seek to be reconcilers. They take their stand between the uncompromising extremist seeking to enforce their beliefs and ways on those who disagree. The result is peacemakers get shot at from both sides.
“We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.” (Matt. 11:17)
In this “winner take all,” “my way or the highway” culture, as Christians, we are called to stand outside the various camps which promote nothing but animosity and division. It’s a lonely place. I know, I’ve been there. But it’s worth it.
Jesus answered a would-be disciple, challenging his commitment, and saying, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58, NIV)
The author of Hebrews urges us, saying, “Let us then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.” (Hebrews 13:13, NIV)
This is the price of choosing to be peacemakers. But it’s worth it because, in the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NIV)