Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.Matthew 5:9
True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A friend was reminding me earlier this week of all those moments in our lives when we make “peace” for all the wrong reasons.
Being the child of an alcoholic and basically a middle child in my step-family, I definitely fall into this pattern all-too-easily myself: Doing everything I can to keep conflict at bay. Ensuring that everyone is happy, even when I get shoved aside or underfoot. Apologizing for everything, even when I’m unsure what I’ve done wrong.
Anyone else ever fall into this model?
Maybe it is also being a woman, but I was taught that it was my duty to ensure that everyone else was cared for and that the surface of the waters were to always be still and serene – no matter what my tired legs might be doing underneath.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think women are the only ones put in this position. I’m actually pretty sure that anyone who has ever had to fight for a seat at the table, or been told that the “timings just not right yet,” or you know “they’ll” listen a whole lot more if you just keep quiet the majority of the time… any and all of those put in any form of a “lower” or “lesser” or “least” position likely knows what I’m talking about.
Heaven forbid we make waves as we finally use our voices or God-given talents or simply acknowledge our desire to be included in a conversation that pertains to our lives. Then we’re too emotional. Or difficult. Or bossy. Or violent.
Oh no. It’s our job to keep the peace. Any damage done because of long lists of abuse, or denial of personhood, or even poking fun – well, that’s all on us for “taking it the wrong way.”
Jesus once said, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” (Luke 12:51).
For when real truth is told it can be quite painful. When long-standing patterns of wrong are called out, many want to bury their heads in the sand rather than opening their eyes to what is present in their midst. And when it is a personal matter, most would rather light fires of blame under even their own family members and see every splinter in other eyes than to ever examine the cold-deck of logs protruding from their own.
It takes courage to face reality. And bravery to seek the mishpat of God – a society ordered around who God truly is. That would mean the presence of wholeness for all people. Mercy. Equity. Kindness. Benevolence. A love that is so ferocious in its concern for the flourishing of each member of the body of God that it will stand with tenacious solidarity until all have what they need.
That’s a vision of all the synonyms for God’s peace, justice, and love from Scripture. That is the heart of God and the foundation of how we are meant to live. And how we are meant to make peace: by building a world that is dauntless enough to follow Christ’s lead into the fray and to stand with those who are not only lacking harmony in their lives, but more importantly those who may have never had a place to stand to begin with.