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A colleague told me today that he particularly appreciated a specific point I made in my sermon last Sunday on being a peacemaker. So much did he appreciate that point, in fact, that he wished I had spent more time fleshing it out instead running off hastily to the next thing due to running out of time.
So, I thought that I would circle back to the point in question and wax more eloquent upon it this time in writing. I sincerely hope that you find this encouraging.
Here’s the point from Sunday:
The first priority of a peacemaker is to create shalom in their immediate family and faith community.
What does that peace look like? It’s a safe haven of love and acceptance through mutual commitment to Christ as our mutual Lord and King—a commitment that overrides any political position or societal dividing wall or theological dispute.
What does that peace look like? It looks like a rehearsed and repeated and lived out passion for Christ that makes ALL ONE who call him Lord, and all issues besides a passion for Christ irrelevant. Remember what the great Apostle Paul wrote:
"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace." Ephesians 2:13-14
So, to summarize: There is NO place in the body of Christ for even the hint that a person’s ethnicity, politics, or social standing matters more than our oneness in Christ Jesus!
And here’s the drilling down further part:
The challenge for peacemakers in this, I believe, is that we are constantly lured into believing a false premise. The false premise is that God’s peace can only prevail if somebody can so decisively win “the debate” (over whatever is the issue of the day) that honestly-held differences of opinion among Christians about politics or social standing or ethnicity melt into a warm feel-good mush of uniformity and sameness.
“Peace through strength” may be how the world’s peace (as opposed to God’s peace) prevails in this world. But that kind of peace is more truce than shalom. As one cynic commented, “A peace treaty after war is just a designated time for nations to reload.”
God’s peace, on the other hand, fairly glows with grace in the miraculous paradox that not only does it NOT require uniformity of opinion or sameness of posture to exist, but actually thrives on differences because these accentuate a higher principle of unity than agreement—the principle of love. I am personally liberated by that truth, because I know intuitively what all of you know as well—there are many differences among people in the Body of Christ that can never become the same, nor should they!
So again, the Great Apostle talks about “preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4.3). If everybody agreed about everything, why would we need to preserve unity? Paul acknowledges continuing differences as the seedbed of that remarkable “shalom” that only people reconciled to God can experience with each other.
Hence Paul’s entreaties:
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:8–11).
And how, pray tell, do we fundamentally pursue peace with brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ? Keep rehearsing this, keep believing this, keep experiencing this, keep reminding each other of this: "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:13-14).
And that will stay the same, forever!
About The Author:
Andy McQuitty is a husband, father, and grandfather; an avid reader, tennis-court rat, golfer, writer, and Harley rider. But his favorite pastime is being with his family. Andy earned his Th.M and D.Min degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary where he received the C. Sumner Wemp Award in personal evangelism as well as the John G. Mitchell Award for outstanding scholarship and effectiveness in ministry. Andy has served as a youth pastor in Tacoma, Washington, an associate pastor in Garland, Texas, and as senior pastor to Irving Bible Church (Texas) for 32 years.