FAQ 2: How Does Peacemaking Relate to Evangelism?
We get asked a lot of the same questions over and over again. The wording may be different, but the concerns remain the same, so we're writing a number of blogs addressing some of our Frequently Asked Questions. See our first post, Is it Really Possible to Have Peace Between Christians and Muslims?
Frequently Asked Question #2:
Aren’t we supposed to evangelize Muslims? How does peacemaking relate to evangelism?
What does it mean to be an evangelical peacemaker? For many, this is an oxymoron. How can you be a true peacemaker and at the same time be a faithful evangelical? We get criticisms from both Muslims and Christians about this. Some Muslims accuse us of doing peacemaking only as a means to evangelize. Some Christians believe that peacemaking without evangelizing is meaningless.
As followers of Jesus, we must love our neighbor (the great commandment) and share our faith (the great commission). So how do we do this practically? We believe the great commandment governs the great commission. In other words, we need to love our neighbor with no strings attached – whether they want to hear the gospel or not.
When someone wants to join Peace Catalyst, we question them thoroughly about their motives. We make it clear that too many evangelicals love their neighbor or do peacemaking only in order to bear witness (or try to convert people). We call this ‘bait-and-switch.’ In this case we recommend that people find another organization that better suits them. God commands us to love our neighbor without an ulterior motive or another agenda. We like and live by the slogan of the Duluth Vineyard: "Love God. Love people. Period."
As a Jesus-centered organization, we speak about Jesus as the Prince of Peace. We pursue peace and share the “gospel of peace.” In fact, the gospel is described as "the gospel of peace" five times in the New Testament (Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:13-17; 6:15; Colossians 1:20 and Romans 5:1). We believe that sharing the gospel is part of the work of peacemaking. So we joyfully share our faith.
But we are a peacemaking community, not a missionary organization. Our unique calling and focus is on peacemaking, not evangelizing.
When Peace Catalyst was just starting, Pastor Tyler Johnson of Redemption Church encouraged us with these wise words: “Evangelical peacemaking is like evangelical relief and development. Groups like World Vision commit themselves to quality relief and development in the name of Christ. Of course they want to bear witness to Christ. But they want to do their work with excellence, unto to the Lord, whether someone comes to Christ or not. Evangelical peacemaking is like evangelical relief and development.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). In other words, God’s children make peace. Jesus also commanded us to let our lights shine before others, so that they would see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). So peacemaking without evangelizing is not meaningless. The good deed of peacemaking glorifies God!