Peace is in short supply in our world, and the proof lies in the latest headlines.
The events in Charlottesville, Virginia serve as our talking points this week. We’ve seen the videos. We’ve grimaced at the vitriol. We’ve retweeted motivational remarks.
Sadly, something next week will vie for our attention, and a white supremacy rally turned deadly will give way to another disgusting display. Getting righteously riled up in the face of injustice and bigotry is all well and good, but now what? The call to be peacemakers extends beyond our social media pages and our knee-jerk outrage in response to the latest news headlines. In Matthew 5:9 Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.”
This begs the question, what are the traits of a peacemaker? And how do we, peacemakers who are God’s hands and feet, bring this peace to a world drowning in its sin?
- Realize who you are fighting. None of what we say, do, or preach will do any good unless we know who we’re battling. I’ve seen plenty of finger-pointing this weekend at President Trump. Others have lamented over President Barack Obama’s lack of leadership, saying it gave rise to these events. Others have blamed white supremacy groups or Black Lives Matter or Antifa. Finger wagging gives the illusion of winning small battles. However, it will never help us win the war. The apostle Paul laid out what we’re up against in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Spiritual forces are working around the clock to warp people’s hearts and minds. We’re foolish if we think otherwise.
- Lay out your battle plan. Once you know who you’re fighting, you can figure out how to defeat them. The plan starts with listening. God may be calling you to show up and counter protest racism. He may be calling you to write your elected leaders. Maybe that still, small voice is nudging you to have that tough conversation with the colleague who lets racial slurs creep into her jokes. Perhaps God is has encouraged you to talk to others at work, school, or church and find out about how racism has impacted their lives. Our individual battle plans all look different, but our collective plan is the same: Pray. We must cry out to God to soften hearts, bind evil, and prevent hated-filled tactics from coming to fruition. Pray works, friends. When we tap into the same power who raised Jesus from the dead and call on it to redeem our broken world, God promised to come through.
- Hold your tongue. The book of Ecclesiastes states there is a time for everything, including a time to speak and a time to shut up. Denouncing evil is Biblical, but it must be done in a Christ-like manner. Sometimes our words are more effective after we’ve taken a breath or allowed our fingers to hover over the keyboard. Pause to reflect on whether what you plan to say is true, helpful, or needed.
- Don’t be divisive. I need spiritual checks and balances from trusted leaders and friends. Accountability, coupled with the challenge to be more Christ-like is essential if we ever want to grow and reach others. But a good deal of what masquerades as truth today is nothing more than obstructionism. It’s the gospel of, “Let’s get people fired up and see what they do.”Are you guilty of this? Do you follow, read, or listen to others who behave this way? Christian leaders, I implore you to bring unity within the Body of Christ rather than cause brothers and sisters to turn against each other.
- Please, please, please do your homework. Yes, we rage against spiritual forces but we also battle troops here on the ground. As a former television reporter and current radio anchor, I can tell you that shocking video and colorful sound bites are good for business. The more people pay attention to your station and your story, the better. A 24-hour-news cycle means half-truths, unsubstantiated facts, and even outright lies get thrown on the air, or shared on news feeds. An outrageous headline can trigger anger or disbelief quickly. It escalates when someone shares the information without thinking clearly, and soon a giant mob is rolling around in the proverbial mud puddle. Is this behavior getting us anywhere good? In a knee-jerk world, we all need to be reporters and critical thinkers. Ask questions, cross-check facts, gather research from various sources, and be slow to assume everything as truth. Gone are the days of trusting your newscasters or favorite publication. Peacemakers make sure the information they share, support, or speak out against is rooted in the facts.
The world has enough division. The call is for Christ-followers to unite in the peace that passes all understanding. You may feel like you’re fighting a losing battle, but I assure you: God has already won the war.