Peace – a word used throughout the ages by people from all walks of life, seeking a peaceful life. And who doesn’t want peace? After all, peace should be the goal of every person on this planet. But what does that mean exactly?
If we were to look at Gandhi, we would see a man who didn’t just seek peace for himself, but a man who wanted peace for all people — Gandhi, an ardent believer in non-violence, spent his whole life trying to bring people together. Gandhi rejected aggression and violence and instead, chose a path of reason, tolerance, patience and cooperation. In doing so, he helped to free an entire nation from the yoke of colonial oppression. A humble man, Gandhi was also vocal in saying that he was in no way a prophet or a philosopher and told the world,“There is no such thing as Gandhism, and I do not want to leave any sect after me.”
The world learned a great deal from the selfless words and actions of Gandhi and today, he is remembered as a man of peace and in a way, tranquility. Sadly however, so many people in our world choose the path of aggression and conflict and most never even bother to try the course of non-violence — they simply set their mind on hostility and never look back.
Dragging Us All With Them
When men, and by men I mean humans, create and encourage hostility, even if not in the militaristic sense of the word, they drag everyone around them along for the chaotic ride that is called conflict.
The dictionary defines conflict as: a: competitive or opposing action of incompatibles : antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons) a conflict of principles; b: mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands. Just reading the definition puts a mental picture clearly in our minds: arguing, yelling, threatening, intimidating, attacking, coercing, stress, violence — not very nice things at all.
A state of war, with actual combat, doesn’t have to exist in order for there to be turmoil and conflict. Discord and strife can, and does exist, simply by the words of people — a person can create great friction simply by saying or writing something hostile, divisive, cruel, argumentative or accusatory. With the dawn of instant communications and specifically social media, most of us have the power to shatter the peace for everyone else. With this power comes great responsibility, but I fear most people are oblivious to the harm they can do with just a single Tweet or Facebook post.
Christians and Conflict
Christians are called upon to be kind, compassionate, generous, calm and peaceful, living their life without fear:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
It is not our purpose to be anxious and agitated and we are taught to have faith…real faith…and to to trust in the Lord. Christians are not meant to take up the sword, including the sword of our spoken or written words. We are not here to cause strife and dissension or create suffering for our brothers and sisters — instead, we are meant to be peacemakers, loving others as we love ourselves and showing kindness and compassion to all.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that the peacemakers are blessed — those that foster harmony and tolerance and who lead with kindness and not malevolence, will indeed be called the children of God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” – Matthew 5:9
Being a peacemaker doesn’t always mean being a pacifist or burying our heads in the sand. A peacemaker is someone who wants peace not just for themselves and their loved ones, but for all people. A peacemaker is someone who thinks before reacting and who considers the resulting effect of what they do. The one who seeks peace and harmony, is the person each and every one of us should strive to be.
Peacemakers have some common traits that make them special, including these five:
1.) Peace rules in their own heart. People who value peace, cooperation and harmony, almost always lead from a place of love. They tend to be caring people and have respect for others — peace rules their heart, because they know that they need to be the change they seek in the world, so they lead by example.
2.) Peacemakers are active participants in the world. Some incorrectly believe that peacemakers bury their head in the sand and pretend that everything is okay — this is not the case. Peacemakers are aware and engaged, but they learn and observe and think much before they react. Most people react out of anger and by doing so, create more conflict. Peacemakers try to understand the issue/topic from all perspectives so they can best help to bring about a resolution.
3.) Peacemakers are gentle by nature. Peacemakers are by nature, calmer and reasonable people. A person who advocates peace, harmony and positivity, generally approaches people and situations with what can be described as a type of serenity.
4.) Peacemakers are patient and understanding. Tied to being gentle by nature, peacemakers realize that some situations need time and understanding, so they will invest the effort to bring about a lasting peace. Peacemakers usually don’t have knee-jerk reactions and they consider their words carefully.
5.) Peacemakers are impartial. Do peacemakers have their own views and opinions? Of course. But, peacemakers try to see things from multiple perspectives and to table their own bias — in essence, they’re diplomats who try to find common ground and a workable peace.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7
The tenets of Christianity are all centered on love, compassion, kindness, understanding, hope and faith. As such. Christians are especially called upon to be the peacemakers and to embrace peace over conflict — having true faith means trusting in God and accepting that He has complete divinity over all. When we cause or get caught up in any type of conflict, we are in essence, acting as if we know best — we do not.