I guess you’ve experienced conflict of one kind or another either at home or at work.
You know what happens—something is said perhaps in the heat of the moment, and another word is exchanged, and there are hurt feelings and even a few raised voices. It happens probably everyday in many situations, even in the church. Christians are supposed to be people of peace, but sometimes Christians have not got on together in a harmonious way. Disagreements happen.
Have you noticed that, whenever you find yourself in a situation like that, you want to react and assert your own position? We may think, “I’m not letting that person run over me. I’m going to win this argument, and I’m coming out on top”. It reminds me of the classic conversation between Lady Astor and Winston Churchill. Lady Astor said to him, “If I were your wife, I’d poison your coffee”, to which Churchill responded, “If I were your husband, I’d drink it”. We may laugh at this exchange, but it proves a point that we love to quarrel to win the argument in times when we are being attacked.
The Countercultural Art of Peacemaking
It opens up this topic of peace, and I think that’s why Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, “How happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). In Jesus’ days, these were radical words indeed—in fact, almost unbelievable words! Jewish people were struggling under the domination of Rome, and the ordinary Jew wanted a fight to get rid of the terrible attack of Rome in their society. They wanted Rome punished for their cruelty, and they prayed God would send a mighty military Messiah who would lead them to conquest. Kind Herod had one time killed 3,000 Jews at a Passover celebration, and Pilate had done something similar. So, how could Jesus say, “Blessed are the peacemakers”? It sounded totally absurd.
Our world has not seen much peace over the centuries. Over the past two millennia there’s been something like 15,000 known wars and more than 8,000 peace treaties have been made and broken. The United Nations motto in 1945 was, “to have succeeding generations free from the scourge of war”. No generation has been free from the terrible cost of war, and unfortunately conflict is all about us.
Are You a Peace-Maker or a Peace-Breaker?
This is an enormous topic, but I think we need to look at ourselves and ask, “Am I a peace-breaker?” These are people who seem to go out of their way to break down relationships. They enjoy having an argument and upsetting people. Do you know someone who loves to cause trouble and division? They only have one opinion—their own, love to argue, judge others, and are good at slandering others. They know how to attack people verbally and walk away from someone they’ve damaged because of the way they’ve spoken. They never seem to realise the damage they do to another person.
The Bible has a word for people like that. Ephesians 4:29-31 says, “Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing. Don’t cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live. Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarrelling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives” (LB). Seems quite straightforward, doesn’t it? These are words of a peacemaker not a peace breaker, and they are words from the Bible to guide us. Maybe you’ve felt there were times when you had every right to make your point and use harsh words. But we need to examine our own hearts and think before we let fly with angry words. Isn’t it important to try and make peace?
Ask God to Help You Find Solutions to Conflict
Back in 1983 the magazine Psychology Today posed a most interesting question. The question asked readers, “If you could push a button and eliminate any person with no repercussions to yourself, would you do it?”. Sixty percent said ‘yes’. Rather frightening isn’t it? We live in a world where so many want to put themselves first ahead of anyone else.
Are you a peacemaker, or a peace breaker? Do you bring people together or pull them apart? It’s always easier to create conflict than it is to promote peace. If you want to be a peacemaker, you’ll ask God to help you find solutions where there is conflict. Then go out of your way to find solutions that bring peace, speaking the truth in a spirit of love and reconciliation. Jesus said the peacemakers are blessed indeed.
(Source – Redland Baptist Church, US)