Can You Be a Follower of Jesus and NOT Be a Peacemaker?
by Rick Love
I was invited to put on a peacemaking seminar and speak at a large evangelical church. A few months after I confirmed, they also asked me if I would be willing to speak to elementary school children at their Christian school. I don’t usually speak to children and wasn’t too excited about it. But when I remembered how Jesus rebuked his disciples for not receiving and blessing children, I knew I had to speak.
I wanted to get the kids' attention, so I began with a bang. “OK kids,” I shouted, “What do football players do?” They all yelled back, “Play football!” “What do baseball players do?” “Play baseball!” "What do actors do?" “Act!” Then I yelled, “What do God’s children do?” There was an awkward pause, and then one child said, “Pray to Jesus?”
I exclaimed, “Jesus said, 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God!' God’s children make peace. So, what do God’s children do?” I repeated. “Make peace!” the children yelled.
The kids were confused because most evangelicals are confused about peacemaking. Steve Norman’s research with over 300 pastors was virtually the same: “Yes, I affirm the theory of peacemaking as a biblical value. No, it’s not something our church is currently doing. Honestly, we’d have no idea where to start if we wanted to.”
When evangelicals talk about being children of God they usually quote John 1:12, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” I rarely hear them describe God’s children as peacemakers. But Jesus does.
One of the most important passages in the Bible about living a life pleasing to God is found in Romans 12. This chapter outlines what a transformed life looks like. And it begins like this:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).
In the rest of the chapter, Paul describes what a life that has been transformed looks like. The chapter climaxes with one of the greatest passages in the New Testament on peacemaking (Romans 12:17-21)! Paul describes peacemaking in both negative and positive terms:
1. Do not curse (14)
2. Do not repay anyone evil for evil (17)
3. Do not take revenge (19)
4. Do not be overcome by evil (21)
1. Bless those who persecute you (14)
2. Do what is right in the eyes of everybody / Live at peace with everyone (17-18)
3. Leave room for God’s wrath, and serve your enemies (19–20)
4. Overcome evil with good (21).
I rarely hear evangelicals make the connection between a transformed life and peacemaking. But Paul does.
Evangelicals may be confused about peacemaking, but Jesus and Paul aren’t. They demonstrate absolute clarity. Jesus describes God’s children as peacemakers. Paul teaches that a life pleasing to God results in peacemaking. Can you be a follower of Jesus and NOT be a peacemaker? Think again!