The following article was written by Rebekah McIlhenny. Rebekah is a member of the Los Angeles Reformed Presbyterian Church; a graduate of Covenant College; wife of Ryan (Dr. Mac), and mother of four. In the article, Becky mentions her pastor recently saying something to her about peace. The aforementioned comment occurred at the aforementioned pastor’s dining room table along with additional counsel from the aforementioned pastor’s wife. Freshly brewed coffee and homemade crepes were also present.
Violent Peace originally appeared on Becky’s blog, Mercy for the Macs.
Yesterday one of my sons was involved in a conflict with a fellow student in our homeschool co-op. The other student claimed he did something hurtful for which my son denies. I am not sure who is telling the truth. While I am not so biased to believe that my little blond cherub is always telling the truth, I do know he has no talent for lying. So when I discussed the issue later with the two boys and the student’s mother, I was surprised to learn that my son apologized for what he had done and that everything was resolved.
I am sure the other mom thought I was crazy when I started to ask questions. I asked my son if he had done the harm he was accused of. He replied “no.” So I asked why he apologized–for what was he apologizing for. The mom interjected to say everything was okay, and I didn’t need to be asking these questions. My son replied and said he apologized so everything could go back to normal.
And then, I am sure to the confusion of these grade school boys and homeschool mom, I went on a little diatribe on peace.
My pastor recently said something that got me thinking about the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking. Most of us know that Jesus says “blessed are the peacemakers.” But if you are anything like me, you have confused peacekeeping with peacemaking. In my past, I have been a brilliant peacekeeper. I have been good at being thick-skinned, for letting wrongs roll off my back, and for saying what needs to be said to appease others. But this is not what Christ was referring to in Matt. 5.
True peacemaking is not silence, it’s not getting over things, it’s not false apologies; but an honest, unapologetic attack on injustice, falsehood, and sin. Interestingly, the only other time the Greek word that is found in the beatitudes is used is in Colossians 1:20: “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” This peace, Christ’s peace, was not accomplished peacefully. It was bloody and violent, confrontational and exposed. True peace is not won easily.
Peacekeepers often demand silence. They will ask you to act (pretend) like everything is okay. They will change subjects, misdirect conversation, formulate incoherent narratives. They will sometimes make ungodly compromises to keep the illusion of peace. Peacekeepers are self-protective instead of other-protective.
Peacemakers will fight for truth. They will disrupt. They will say what is uncomfortable, what may cause friction and even pain if it seeks that which is just and right in God’s eyes. And they will often be vilified and labeled as trouble-makers.
But this is how true peace is gained. This is the model the Messiah has laid out for reconciliation–to himself and to others. Peacemaking involves hard truth and painful exposure of our sin. But it is true and long lasting peace.
So my beautiful blond boy, I hope you understand why you got reprimanded for apologizing. My tender-hearted son I don’t want you to compromise truth for false peace. I want you to be counted among the apostles and martyrs who will fight, sometimes with blood, for true peace in Christ.
My dear boy, be a trouble-maker, a dissenter, an agitator, a truth-teller for the sake of true love and peace among the brothers. It may cost you more than you can imagine in the short-run, but in the long-run it will glorify the Son who won you peace by his death.