Peacekeeping Vs. Peacemaking
I grew up in a home where the goal was to “keep the peace.” My parents often argued and as the oldest I would gather my brothers and sister and we would hide in the closet. As I grew up, I learned the ground rules for peacekeeping:
-Peacekeepers walk on eggshells to not upset anyone
-Peacekeepers don’t share how they really feel so they don’t start an argument
-Peacekeepers avoid conflict and apologize for things that they haven’t even done
-Peacekeepers always feel taken advantage of and find their identity in not making waves
The Bible says nothing about being a peacekeeper. Scripture calls us to be peacemakers.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:9– “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
We’ve confused peacemaking with peacekeeping. What we typically think is that peacemakers need to take one for the team. If we’ve been hurt then pursuing peace is keeping quiet or not speaking truth or only sharing part of the truth. We equate being passive with peacemaking. We withhold truth and we skirt the truth and we don’t speak how we are really feeling, thinking that we are doing what is best for the relationship.
The by-product of living like this is resentment and distance and passive-aggressiveness and hurt and surface level relationships. We have no peace. We think we are helping the relationship, but we are actually fracturing it even more.
Maybe you’ve been hurt; you’ve been let down; you’ve been disappointed…and you haven’t said anything in an effort to “Keep the peace”…but the truth is you don’t have peace at all.
Peacemakers are different. Maybe the key to peace for you is to stop keeping peace and start making peace.
– Peacemakers are ruthlessly committed to truth-telling.
Peacemakers speak the truth in love. When they are offended or hurt, they communicate their feelings honestly. When they have hurt others, they own their mistake and ask for forgiveness. They know that withholding truth will never lead to intimacy.
-Peacemakers are humble enough to pray for the person that hurt them.
An amazing thing happens when I pray for someone that has wounded me…God changes my heart. There are times that God changes them, but God always changes me when I humble myself to pray for that person. When I bow my knees and bring that relationship before God, I am saying to Him, “This person is more valuable to me than being right.” God shows up in a heart that is humble enough to elevate someone else above ourselves.
-Peacemakers pursue reconciliation at the risk of their own comfort.
Avoidance isn’t peacemaking. Avoiding conflict will never build intimacy. You will never grow closer to your sister by ignoring her. You will never reconcile with your dad by not going home for Christmas. You will never grow closer in your marriage by pretending there is no conflict. Sometimes the best way you can build peace is to embrace confrontation.