FAQ 6: What Is Jesus-Centered Peacemaking?
Today we're continuing our blog series addressing some of our most frequently asked questions. If you missed them, see our previous posts addressing the questions, Is it Really Possible to Have Peace Between Christians and Muslims?, How Does Peacemaking Relate to Evangelism?, Why Should We Bother with Peacemaking?, Did Jesus Come to Bring Peace or a Sword? and Are You Teaching Chrislam?
Frequently Asked Question #6:
You say you are Jesus-centered peacemakers. What does that mean?
We rejoice that conflict resolution and peacemaking have become major fields of study in colleges and universities. We have learned much from secular research and will continue to engage with scholars and practitioners in this field. Nevertheless, we are Jesus-centered in our approach. Here are five truths that define what Jesus-centered peacemaking means to us:
1. The Person of Christ
The Bible teaches that Jesus’ very person is peace. Old Testament prophecies said he would be called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and that he would be our peace (Micah 5:2-5). The New Testament says Jesus himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:13-14). And since he is our peace, we can’t help but talk about him!
2. The Teaching of Christ
Peacemaking is a central theme in Jesus’ teaching. He commanded us to go and be reconciled (Matthew 5:24). To first take the log out of our own eye (Matthew 7:5 NRS). To forgive those who sin against us (Luke 17:3-4). To love our neighbor as ourself (Matthew 22:39). And to love our enemy (Matthew 5:44). So we are committed to both the methods and mandate for peacemaking in Jesus’ teaching.
3. The Example of Christ
When Jesus preached the gospel, healed the sick, loved the marginalized, forgave sinners, and fed the hungry, he was demonstrating what the kingdom is like. He was a shalom maker.
Jesus was also a nonviolent activist.
He said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm“ (John 18:36). Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).
However, Jesus was not a hippy-like peacenik of the 60’s and 70’s. He was also a peace disturber! He cleansed the temple – attacking religious corruption. He called out hypocrites and challenged the status quo. How is this an example of peacemaking? True peace demands a pure heart. True peace includes justice for all. Perhaps the best modern example of a peace disturber is Martin Luther King Jr. He confronted white hypocrisy, racism and injustice. But his goal was not to defeat white America; rather, he sought reconciliation between races.
So we pursue shalom non-violently and sometimes we disturb the status quo to work towards true peace.
4. The Cross of Christ
At the cross Jesus cries out, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). In so doing, Jesus demonstrates enemy love – a key to making peace and an important part of the gospel (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). In fact, the gospel is referred to as the gospel of peace five times in the New Testament (Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:13-17; Ephesians 6:15; Colossians 1:20). For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus] and through him to reconcile to himself all things… by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).
5. The Second Coming of Christ
Finally, prophecies of Christ’s return make it clear that God’s end game is peace.
He shall judge between many peoples.… they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid (Micah 4:3-4 NRS).
My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd.… I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant (Ezekiel 37:24-27).
So as Jesus-centered peacemakers we follow the person of Christ. We obey the teaching of Christ. We imitate the example of Christ. We believe and share the cross of Christ, and we long for the return of Christ.