I so enjoy being invited into a home where I discover a refuge, an emotionally warm place that says ‘Welcome.’ Over the years Bev and I opened our home to many people, some for a day or two, others for longer stays. We often heard others say, “Your home is a place of peace.” Now before you jump to the conclusion that there were no angry words or hard days, I hasten to say that we had our moments, like any couple.
But, a prime desire we shared was that our home would be welcoming, to us and others, a place to which we loved to go. We worked to create a place of peace, a safe place from which to step out of the hustle of life. Many things contributed to that peace- loving God and inviting the Spirit to be with us, creating order that kept out chaos, and prioritizing family time were some of those choices.
Serenity does not just happen, it requires effort.
Jesus says that one of the ways we know God’s best, one of the keys of blessings, is to be a ‘peacemaker.’ “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, KJV) The joy I feel when I help someone find peace with God, through faith in Jesus, is indescribable. Similarly, I rejoice when I have the opportunity to encourage resolution to conflict in a marriage or between people who have had an argument. Truly it is a blessed thing to be a peacemaker.
A key to knowing the joyous blessing of peacemaking is to be at peace!
When we are in turmoil, when our lives are chaotic, when we are not walking in harmony with God, our Father, it is not very likely that we will lead others to peace. When I am pre-occupied, busy, or stressed, I am not a man of peace, nor do I bring peace to situations. Instead my inner storms tend to raise tension, causing others to turn inward, to become closed, perhaps even defensive. In contrast, when I am full of the peace of God I am able to share that peace with others.
We are reconciled to our Father through Christ Jesus! He is our peace. But, we must receive His peace by faith. ” God … reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, NIV) We need not feel ‘distance’ or ‘distress’ when approaching the Lord. Our sins are forgiven, our debt is fully paid, so we are at peace with Him. Is your heart and mind at rest, in the peace provided by Christ Jesus? That is basic to peacemaking.
Peacemaking also requires self-forgetfulness.
I love the story of Jonathan and David though tragic. Jonathan was King Saul’s son, the crown prince of Israel. But, because of his father’s rebellion, God had removed His blessing from Saul’s household. Saul’s heart was full of chaos and rage. David, who distinguished himself as a hero in Israel came to the court to play his songs and soothe the king. “David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.” (1 Samuel 16:23) As time passed, it became clear that David had won the heart of the nation, that he would be her next ruler. The conflict between David and Saul sharpened to such an extent that he attempted to murder David and then pursued him with the army on several occasions, seeking his life.
Jonathan was an amazingly selfless man! Instead of trying to hold onto his place, he worked at making peace. “Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly.” (1 Samuel 19:4, NIV) The prince put himself at great risk to intervene on David’s behalf and the two became close, sharing a deep love for each other. In time, tragically, Jonathan died in battle along with King Saul, but David never forgot his efforts.
If we want to live Jesus’ words about peacemaking, we will have to forget ourselves, set aside ego, and take up the challenge of the Word. “Be … like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:2-4, NIV) God does not ask us to think of ourselves as worthless, or to become rugs under the feet of others. He does ask us to trust Him to secure us, to care for us, so that we can seek the best for others even when it comes at a cost to us. This is a basic component of living as a peacemaker!
Human beings, in their natural state, are contentious. Every culture, every society, every family, every church has gone through times of conflict, even war. Hate seems to come to us as naturally as breathing. But, in Christ, we find a new way, a way of love, that seeks peace. Are you a peacemaker? Do you stir the pot of conflict and chaos OR do you take the way of Jesus?
Here is a word from the Word. “Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say, “If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others.” (1 Peter 3:8-11, NLT)
Lord, help us to receive Your peace and to work to make peace. Amen.
Joys Are Flowing Like A River (Blessed Quietness)
(a dated presentation of a timeless hymn)
Joys are flowing like a river
Since the Comforter has come
He abides with us forever
Makes the trusting heart His home
Blessed quietness holy quietness
What assurance in my soul
On the stormy sea He speaks peace to me
How the billows cease to roll
Like the rain that falls from heaven
Like the sunlight from the sky
So the Holy Ghost is given
Coming on us from on high
What a wonderful salvation
Where we always see His face
What a perfect habitation
What a quiet resting place
James M. Kirk | Manie Payne Ferguson | W. S. Marshall