Election Day is over, but the aftermath of counting votes in anticipation of the celebration of the ascension of some people’s political savior while others wallow in despair over the defeat of theirs, is just beginning. Election results, another issue that divides citizens in the United States, affects our churches whether we like it or not. <
If there has been a more needed time for peacemakers in my lifetime, I haven’t seen it.
What is a Peacemaker?
Not to be mistaken for someone who brings peace between God and man or by someone who speaks about peace only, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9). Explained by Biblical Scholar Werner Foerster, peacemakers are:
Those who disinterestedly come between two contending parties and try to make peace. These God calls His sons because they are like Him.
It appears there is a significant lack of peacemakers in the church because too many of us cannot or will not fill this definition. We are too interested in being right, in pushing our agendas, or in siding with the “winning” side. Our love for people in disagreement is usually lackluster, leaving us playing sides and not seeing them as God sees them: children who are divided and need to be unified in him.
Where to Begin
Because we pastor churches whose congregants live much of their lives online, social media makes it abundantly clear where division amongst our people lies.
Maybe it’s about politics, maybe relational dynamics and strain, whatever the topic, we need to be attuned to know when there is division in our churches, whether it be in plain sight at church or “hidden” on social media. Let Paul act as our example who knew about the division in the relationship between Euodia and Syntyche at the church in Philippi (Phil 4:2) and made the effort to exhort them to agreement.
Pardon the elementary assertion, but we can’t have peace with one another without first having peace with God through the work of Christ on our behalf.
Any hope of bringing peace between others cannot be made on the battlefield of moral hierarchy, the prideful assertion of intellect, or the distrust of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Until there is agreement that apart from Christ we were once dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:4-5) and that we still struggle with sin and are broken by sin to this day (Rom 7:18-19), we cannot hope to see peace rule where division once held dominion.
Only on the level ground of our brokenness and Christ’s love for us can we begin to reset the foundational relational dynamics that must be made right before division can be healed. Then and only then can we see love overflow out of the abundant love of God for us in Christ to one another. Your beloved brother or sister cannot be your enemy and division cannot exist where Christ has brought unity. There is room for disagreement, the love of God is big enough to cover disagreement in the church but it will not abide division.
A Desperate Need
Sadly, I’ve talked to multiple pastors who have abandoned social media, community discussions, and other places where they see division in their churches because it is too overwhelming and seemingly too difficult to tackle. The fruit of this, I fear, will be the division in their bodies or flat out dissolution. Refusing to be a peacemaker will not lead to unity and life.
Brothers and sisters hear me! You must be a peacemaker and come between two contending parties in your church in an effort to bring peace. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide and help you as you seek to bring unity and love. Do not be drawn into the division, but let the love of Christ flow out of you into the broken relationships in front of you.