And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:18 ESV)
Peace is characterized by a calm and quiet mood or atmosphere. It is the opposite of war between nations, civil disruptions in cities, and feeling distressed. Peacemakers have a different mindset; they are not Pollyannaish, but instead have a different focus. As I understand it, conflict is stirred by competing agendas and desires between people. When desires are left unmet, we feel deprived or humiliated because we did not get our way. Sometimes the loss has not even occurred, but the thought of its possibility can make us fearful, irrational worrywarts. How often do we let our minds wander into some wild brainstorm only to result in our own overreaction? Sometimes people will scratch their heads and wonder what has gotten into us. We can get caught up in protecting our reputations, privileges, and liberties, because we do not want to be disadvantaged or dispossessed. When we start fighting for our wants and wills, our desires become objects of worship, confusing our ability to discern the will of God.
For me, this is unsettling, because I never want to be at odds with the Lord. Yet sometimes I just can’t help but react to my emotions because any attempt to remain quiet will have me crawling out of my skin. To counter these behaviors, it is worthwhile to stop, pray, and ponder the circumstances; but I don’t do this sitting down. I must get up and walk around because the surge of norepinephrine has put me into a fight mode. That is why I like to get up and run in the morning. There is something about pounding pavement in a quiet neighborhood that allows me to mull things over with God. And once I reach the end of my run, all that pent up anxiety and agitation is released into the Lord’s hands and I am prepared to receive some clear instruction from him. His Spirit reminds me of a particular Scripture and then tells me, “Do that today.” Sometimes I don’t obey right away, but his words are often repeated to me until I follow his advice.
So, what is the mindset of a true peacemaker? Well, I think it is having the resolve to proactively pursue peace; we do this by chasing after God, to seek him out for sound advice. Only he is righteous, and so he gets to set the standard that we must learn to follow. The Father sent Jesus to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). The Bible says that “he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:24,25). In other words, Jesus knew how confused, messy, and sinful we all are. Therefore, many of his teachings advise us on how to interact with people because most of our problems are 99.99% people problems. His approach was gentle, and his demeanor was most often worry-free because he knew exactly who he was. He has the power and authority to not only forgive sins, but to also heal the sick, multiply baskets of food, calm torrential storms, and even hear the thoughts of everyone around him. Knowing all these things should lock our hearts on to Jesus if we accept them as truth.
In a world full of imperfect sinners, we are bound to clash with one another. So, to sort out our differences, we need to apply his instructions. We also need time to process our emotions before we can objectively analyze the facts. We must overrule our emotions by not letting them rule us, lest we make matters worse by doing more harm. Can God fix any problem that we are facing? The answer is a resounding “YES” and we need to trust him with the outcome, even if we don’t get to see it in our lifetime. We will have all the answers in heaven, but we need to be okay with that.
If things did not turn out as you hoped, would you accept the temporary setback or pain knowing that God will fix it in the future? That is the real issue that peacemakers must decide for themselves. Is this what the author meant when he wrote “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)? Being a peacemaker is not easy, but our efforts to achieve peace will only bring us closer to God. And for that, I think he may commend us for trying.