Blessed are the Peacemakers
In the most famous sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NIV) This seems like one of the more straightforward beatitudes, or is it? Sometimes in order to fully understand what the Bible says, we need to be aware of what the Bible does not say. Notice that Jesus did not say “Blessed are the peacekeepers …” I hadn’t really considered the differences between peacemaking and peacekeeping until a few months ago, when my pastor preached a sermon about this. This article addresses some of those differences.
One of the main contrasts between the two is that peacemakers will not run from or avoid conflict. While peacemakers don’t necessarily seek out conflict, they will address a problem when it arises in order to seek resolution. This can be the case if the conflict is between two other parties or between the peacemaker and another person. On the other hand, peacekeepers will often avoid conflict, so that in the moment, they can have a false sense of peace and restoration. Peacekeeping is more concerned about immediate, short-term relief rather than the more sustainable, long-term resolve. Because peacemakers are willing to confront conflict, they sacrifice pseudo peace now for genuine peace later.
Another difference is that peacemakers are active and peacekeepers are passive. To make peace, there has to be conversations about the problem(s). These discussions need to include both clear communication and active listening. Then solutions need to be generated and agreed upon by both parties, even if the best solution is to agree to disagree. In contrast, peacekeepers tend to avoid these conversations because they do not like conflict. They view conflict as bad or wrong, instead of viewing it as a useful tool, with which to accomplish resolution. Ignoring important issues only allows the conflict to resurface in the future. Additionally, the problem will not only resurface but may also grow and become worse. Nothing has been solved, only delayed. Once again, peacemakers will sacrifice pseudo comfort now for genuine comfort later.
Another dissimilarity is that peacemakers relish in the truth according to God’s word; whereas, peacekeepers will compromise on truth to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. There are many ideas nowadays about what “truth” is, but God’s truth, which is the compass pointing true north, doesn’t change to fit the current social climate. God’s truth is going to step on some toes, but peacemakers love people enough to gently speak God’s truth in love, as truth can set people free. Alternately, peacekeepers tend to tell others what they want to hear so they don’t ruffle any feathers. This false pretense often enables unhealthy choices and behaviors to continue. Air Force Chaplain Mark Hill describes peacekeepers as this: “They are more concerned about maintaining the absence of conflict than they are about speaking the truth into difficult subjects. These peacekeepers are quick to respond and redirect whenever a peacemaker seeks to speak truth into important topics.” Thus peacemakers will sacrifice pseudo truth for real truth. They will do this lovingly, even if they have to use tough love to accomplish this.
Peacemakers and peacekeepers also differ in their emotional health. While conflict isn’t pretty, peacemakers have an inner peace that peacekeepers do not have. Even though resolution may take some time, peacemakers can rest assured that clarification, boundaries, and desires have been expressed, eventually resulting in mutual understanding, respect, and resolve. However, peacekeepers often have inner turmoil because they know the issues have not been addressed; they have simply been swept under the rug. Their short term feelings of relief will be fleeting, as these problematic issues are being saved for another day. Without resolve, peace is rarely achieved. Peacemakers are willing to sacrifice the appearance of resolution in the present moment for actual resolution in the future.
In summary, God’s children are to be peacemakers. Like any loving father, He desires for His children to experience happiness, which is what “blessed” means. Peacemakers can feel true peace, even when issues may not be peaceful. Peacekeepers will not be able to feel peace, even when circumstances appear peaceful. God desires true joy and peace for His children. That is the blessing for being a peacemaker.