Making Real Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:9)
We cannot fear conflict more than we desire peace.
Peace has to be made. The making process sometimes creates friction, resistance, disagreement, debate. This is the only way some peace can be made.
Martin Luther King, Jr and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have shaped my thinking on the messy making of peace more than anyone else.
Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran minister who lived in Germany as Hitler ascended to power. Because Hitler was promising tremendous improvements to Germany and often spoke of Jesus, he was embraced by Lutherans across the country. One historian claims Hitler would not have become Fuhrer without the support of the Lutheran Church in Germany.
But Bonhoeffer argued, wrote, debated…and lost dear friends, family support, public respect, personal freedom…and eventually his life.
Deitrich Bonhoeffer quote silence
Martin Luther King, Jr wrote from a Birmingham jail cell that the Ku Klux Klan was not the biggest obstacle to equal rights for blacks in America. It was the Christian “white moderate, who prefers a negative peace (the absence of tension) to a positive peace (the presence of justice).”
We cannot fear conflict more than we desire peace.
SOMETIMES relationships break, tensions escalate, and sparks fly because I’ve behaved like an ass. I have communicated poorly, disrespectfully, or cruelly in pursuit of some change which may or may not even be worth pursuing at all. That’s not peace making.

But sometimes – though communicating as clearly and kindly as I can – tempers still flare, feelings are hurt, and relationships are strained because a difficult peace is being made. Real peace. Not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice.

Martin Luther King Junior silence

A Jewish rabbi once defined the Hebrew concept of peace (shalom) for me this way: It is not merely the absence of brokenness and evil but the replacing of it with wholeness and good.
That peace doesn’t just happen. It has to be made.
When it is, we bear a striking family resemblance to God our Father.
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