Are you a peacemaker or peacekeeper?

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Jesus once said, Blessed are the peacekeepers, for…..No, no, no. He didn’t say that.

Jesus actually said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Yep, that’s what he said.

David invites those who want long life to “seek peace and pursue it.”

But is there really a difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping? I think so, especially in my southern context.

Southerners–especially church going Southerners–tend towards peacekeeping.

  • Which basically means don’t say or do anything that might upset someone, even if they’re in the wrong. It’s best just to let it go, let a little time pass, and move on.
  • Or the classic, don’t poke your stick in it and it won’t stink.

I’ll confess that I’ve done my part of this for decades. It sounds something like-“That’s not my place.” or “It probably won’t go well, so why bother?” There, I kept the peace.

Simply put, we confuse peacekeeping for peacemaking.

Here’s the primary difference b/n the two:

 

  • Peacekeeping is passive.
  • Peacemaking is active.

I.e., We think we’re keeping peace in the home, at work, or at church, but that peacekeeping is really just a glorified passivity.

There is nothing passive about peacemaking. Patient, yes. Peaceful, perhaps. Not passive.

 

Peacekeeping is about protecting an illusion of calm or avoiding conflict of some kind.

But Peacemaking almost always involves conflict of some kind. It’s active.

  • It may be a difficult conversation. (e.g., someone is doing you wrong)
  • It may be a confrontation. (e.g., someone is wronging others)
  • It may be a confession. (e.g., you’ve wronged someone)

Making peace via these avenues means you and I will be engaged in conflict. It means we will make enemies most likely.

But think about this in honor of Father’s Day. The men we remember and revere (not everyone will agree with my list, but you have your own), were actively seeking and pursuing peace.

  • MLK was a peacemaker. He gave a voice to a people who weren’t being heard and didn’t feel safe to speak.
  • Abraham Lincoln was a peacemaker who put his career and life on the line to acknowledge and honor the inherent dignity of every person no matter the color of their skin.
  • Jesus was a peacemaker whose ultimate goal was to lead people into peace with the God of heaven.

These were men of action. They had plans and goals. And all of these peacemakers have something else in common–they gave their lives in the pursuit of peace.

Peacekeeping doesn’t get you killed. Maybe an unfollow or unfriend, but not killed.

If you choose to respond to the Lord’s exhortation to be a peacemaker, you’ll end up with more unrest and discomfort in your life because of it.

It’s one of the reasons, I suspect, David writes in Psalm 34.19 that “the one who is righteous has many adversities.”

Because you just have more problems trying to follow Jesus than not. As if peacemaking isn’t enough, you love enemies, forgive 1bajillion times, wash dirty feet, and so forth. So I get it, peacekeeping is easier now, but what about in the long run?

If you choose peacekeeping, what you actually do is leave the door wide open to greater and more complex problems in the future.

       A failure to address things now will only be magnified later.

 

 

David could certainly think about this from his experience as a man, husband, dad, and king

David wasn’t a great dad from the picture presented in Scripture. Well after the triumph over Goliath and his disastrous sequence of events surrounding Bathsheba, David was husbanding, fathering, and doing what kings do. But he wasn’t doing what peacemakers do. Quickly:

  • David’s son Amnon was infatuated with his [Amnon’s] sister, Tamar.
  • Amnon raped Tamar, making her an outcast in that culture.
  • David finds out and is infuriated, as any dad should be.

Here’s the crazy thing, though. Two verses after David is said to be furious comes this: “Two years later…” Two years passed, and we hear nothing of David’s actions to reconcile this situation, to bring the peace necessary to this massive injustice.

Absalom–Tamar’s other brother–hated Amnon and found a way to kill him. Such bitterness took root in Absalom toward David that he decided David was unfit to rule and ran him out of town. Not long after, Absalom himself ended up dead.

And there is king David left to make sense of the carnage. Two dead sons and a disgraced daughter who feels unloved and unprotected by the man who should have been looking out for her the most.

David may have been a pro at keeping the peace, but he was pathetic at making peace.

After avoiding confessions around Bathsheba and Uriah he evaded necessary confrontations and conversations with his sons and daughter.

Peacekeeping is easier now, but everyone pays for it later. As best I can tell, that’s true in business, education, church, and family.

Making peace will require making a mess, at least for a while. But to avoid it is to ensure a greater calamity in the future.

Since peacemaking is active:

  1. What conversation do you need to have?
  2. What confrontation?
  3. What confession might you need to make?

Blessed are the peacemakers…

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Sometimes it’s the right idea but you’re the wrong person

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Solomon’s, NOT DAVID’S, temple

I hated even writing that title.

I still hate reading it.

It reminds me  of  that whole, was Facebook the idea of Mark Zuckerberg or those tall Winklevoss twins?

At any rate, I feel like that wrong person sometimes. Especially when I look at what person X is doing or how person Q is thriving  and think, “I could be doing that” or “I had that idea, too” or “Seriously, him?”

You may have a great idea, a good idea. But you may not be the right person to do it. That could be for any number of reasons–don’t have the platform, too educated, not educated enough, don’t know the right people, short on cash, maxed out credit.

King David, it turns out, had a really great idea. It was actually a good idea in the moral sense. But David didn’t get to do it. Here is son Solomon’s account of dad’s dream and subsequent denial:

2 Chronicles 6:7-10

Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, it is not you who shall build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 10 Now the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he made. For I have risen in the place of David my father and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.

Great job, David! Way to dream a big, bold, God-sized dream! Nevertheless…no…not now…not ever…at least, not you…

I have historically journaled my dreams and tried not to talk about them too much lest a Solomon come along and get to live them out instead of me. But at some point David must have told Solomon what he was thinking and imagining. It caught Solomon’s imagination, too. And God wanted it to be Solomon.

There’s honor in thinking big and having great ideas, morally great ideas, and not being the one who sees it to fruition. That’s okay in the economy of God’s kingdom because all credit goes to Him anyways. All glory goes to Him.

So maybe it’s time to dream out loud a bit more and share what big thing is stirring within and monopolizing our thoughts. And then to pray something like, “Lord, if not me, then someone.”