Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Pursuit of Peace

Chuckle: "The supermarket bag boy was asked, 'How long have you been working here?' He replied, 'Ever since they threatened to fire me!'"

Quote: “Anyone can love peace, but Jesus didn't say, 'Blessed are the peace-lovers.' He says peacemakers. He is referring to a life vocation, not a hobby on the sidelines of life.” --Jim Wall

"He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it" (1 Peter 3:11 NIV).

Some may view the pursuit of peace as passive in nature; but being peaceful in hopes that it will bring peace to others is not the picture Peter is painting. Like Paul, Peter uses an image of an athlete giving his all in a race as he sprints toward the finish line where peace awaits him. This is the way he describes the pursuit of peace. It requires determination, persistence, and hard work to be a peacemaker. It requires us to be proactive rather than reactive.

Effective peacemakers first must have genuine love for others and be concerned for their welfare. They are committed to peace and pursue it by actively developing healthy relationships, because they know that peace is the bi-product of personal love and commitment to one another. They take responsibility for building peace and look ahead to foresee any relationship problems that could disrupt the fellowship.

As conflicts arise, peacemakers bring the pertinent issues out into the open and deal with them before they grow and become unmanageable. Issues that are not dealt with and allowed to fester can harden hearts to the point that harmony cannot be restored. Someone has said that waging peace can be harder than waging war; but it also can result in a life of happiness for everyone, including the peacemaker.

As a pastor, I can attest to the disruption of peace that unresolved issues can cause within a congregation. Being passive in hopes that festering problems will resolve themselves is wishful thinking. It seldom happens that way. Peacemakers recognize their responsibilities and never shirk from them. As they seek to bring peace, they must work hard not to cause conflicts by their actions, and should never compromise their basic Christian values. Their focus should always be to deal with discord swiftly, constructively, and redemptively.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, "God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9 NLT). To be blessed means happiness, but much more. It implies a fortunate or enviable state in God's kingdom. Peacemakers will experience hope and joy which are the ingredients of the deepest form of happiness. "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:18 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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