“He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God’s strength, centered in the majesty of God-Revealed. And the people will have a good and safe home, for the whole world will hold him in respect – Peacemaker of the world!” (Micah 5:4-5, MSG)
Dear friends in Christ,
As we prepare once again to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I cannot help but remember the words of the prophet Micah and long for the day when “the whole world will hold him in respect.” I hear the angels singing to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the heavenly heights, peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” (Luke 2:14, MSG) This advent season we are once again reminded of the hope we find in the promises of God; the peace we find as we go to Jesus whenever our lives are in turmoil; the unimaginable love that God showed by sending his only son to live with us, teach us, and save us; and the eternal joy we will one day share in the presence of God.
It is the concept of “peace” that draws me today into mediation on how we, as faithful Christians, are called to be “peacemakers.” In Matthew 5:9, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Micah calls Jesus the Peacemaker of the world. What does this mean for us? The Hebrew word for peace is shalom and it carries the meaning of wholeness or well-being; it offers the idea that we are not in conflict with God or with one another. In the New Testament, the Greek word means the absence of strife among individuals or nations. There is also the connection between peace and spiritual blessings from God. Christ was born to be the Prince of Peace. Christ’s work is to bring peace. Christ’s death has accomplished peace between God and humanity, and Jew and Gentile. Being a peacemaker during one Thanksgiving dinner is easy, but being a peacemaker throughout one’s life is a much harder task. Doing the work God calls us to is never easy and being part of the peacemaking process is no exception.
We are so fond of quoting, “Peace on earth, good will to all,” during the Christmas season. Yet I have to wonder if we really think about what we’re saying here, what we’re hoping for, what we’re praying for in these words. Peace is the absence of strife; it is the end of all conflict; it is the presence of God and a state of being that “surpasses all understanding” and guards our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:7). Doesn’t that sound wonderful? The thing is, we probably don’t have the power to bring about this kind of peace among nations; that is something we can only pray for in God’s power and will. We do, however, have the ability to make this kind of peace attainable within our families, our church, and our community. We begin the process by becoming peacemakers, by not participating in arguments, by trying to see all sides of an issue, and by working to calm rather than “stir the pot.” We can be agents of peace by not participating in “idle talk” and by never sharing a “he said/she said” story. We can help to heal wounded relationships by apologizing for our own bad behavior and by forgiving others when they hurt our feelings. We can change the perspective of a hurting person by offering kindness when they least expect it. We can avoid broken relationships by not being so focused on what we want and looking at what others want and what is best for everyone concerned.
Peace cannot grow out of selfishness; peace cannot exist in a whirlwind of controversy; peace cannot flourish in the bright light of criticism or the dim light of malicious gossip; peace can only be found when we are still, knowing that God is God and we are not. The prophets foretold the promise of God’s peace; a time will come when all the world holds God in respect and there is an absence of conflict in the presence of God. Until that day, we are called to be the blessed peacemakers, the children of God who do all we can to help others recognize and rejoice in the peace that passes all understanding through Jesus Christ. “Glory to God in the heavenly heights, peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” Amen!