Peacekeepers vs. Peacemakers
I have been a part of the church my whole life. As a pastor's kid and now pastor, I am in the church building whenever the doors are open and I meet all sorts of people as they come and go. With so many different types of people in one place, conflicts are sure to take place. Fortunately, growing up I watched these conflicts from a distance, they never seemed to affect me. I was even blessed enough to never be in a church where a large faction or split of any type took place. But the fact is, events of conflict happen all the time in churches all across the country. We argue over the color of carpet, business models, pews vs. chairs, choruses vs. hymns, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, Patriots vs. Steelers, and so on. In the last few years as an adult and church leader I have found that confrontation due to conflict takes place on an almost daily occurrence. I have come to understand that confrontation, conflict, and difference of opinion is not negative when handled correctly. In fact, such things are positive because they move us into a place of excellence as well as a place of true peace.
Recently, I read a scripture in Romans 12 that really jumped off the page. Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
The truth is, the majority of the time peace depends on us. Yes, there are moments when situations are out of our hands, where people are upset or disgruntled, and no matter how hard we try they will still be upset. Yet the majority of the time it does depend on us. We have the ability to bring peace or war, unity or division.
Jesus called us to be peacemakers and I personally want to be someone that says, "No matter what, if it's possible, as much as I am able, bring peace."
Then I started thinking about true peace vs. false peace. This is something Chrissy loves to talk with me about.
False Peace = parents overlooking disobedience of their children allowing them to dictate what they do so the child does not become upset.
True Peace = parents disciplining their children in love when the child acts out in a wrong way. (The child may be upset initially, but you've made a way for true peace to come.)
False peace = leaving a meeting upset over the decision that was made, complaining about it, downing your authority, allowing your frustration to fester.
True peace = voicing your disagreement over the decision at an appropriate time with a humble attitude, understanding God is in control and that you aren't no matter who makes what decision.
False Peace = ignoring confrontation when someone has hurt or wronged you because then the individual will know they hurt you or become agitated that you were even hurt, allowing fear, bitterness and pride to take root in your heart.
True Peace = embracing confrontation; using it as an opportunity to air your feelings as well as talk about the situation and how you feel wronged by that individual, letting the individual explain himself/herself, giving opportunity for both parties to grow, forgive or be forgiven.
Are you living a life of true peace or false peace? Unfortunately, many of us live in false peace because we have bought into the lie that we are called to be peacekeepers. This is false; we have been called to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. There is a distinct difference. Peacekeepers encourage individuals to bottle up their thoughts and feelings so as to sustain a false peace (perhaps even tolerate a sin) in the situation. Peacemakers address real situations allowing all people to express their feelings; thus, enabling all to understand each others' opinions and make wrongs right. Peacekeepers force the issue to remain in the dark. Peacemakers encourage the issue be brought into the light. Peacekeepers manage bondage. Peacemakers bring freedom.
As you read this, you may all know the difference between true peace and the false peace. You've experienced both sides of peace in your lives, in your relationships, in your families, in your churches. Remember, in whatever situation you find yourself in today, we are called to be peacemakers not peacekeepers, if at all possible, as far as it depends on us.