“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). This beatitude of Jesus, which pronounces blessing on those who make peace, can be easily confused with peacekeeping. At the risk of sounding trite, if there is no peace, how can it be kept? What is this thing, peacemaking, which results in being called children of God? What does it look like?
We are counseled by the psalmist to “seek peace, and pursue it” (34:14). What does seeking peace look like?
One time, I was at a meeting of local ministers, and the discussion turned to making and seeking peace. I believe it started after someone said that seeking peace in the Middle East was hopeless. Scriptural warrant for that comment was provided. Added to that was a complaint about those who “seek peace at any cost.” I asked, “What’s wrong with that?” The response characterized those who seek peace at any cost as making peace with those who oppress others—those who are unjust. I pointed out that where there is no justice, there can be no peace. We’re fooling ourselves with an illusion of peace.
Of course, peacemaking is not limited to the political arena, with nations dealing with each other. And those who oppress and are unjust to others need not be dictators; we encounter that in our daily lives. (Too often we’re the ones who oppress others!) No, peacemaking is first of all a personal matter. It comes from within. If we ourselves don’t have peace, we will be limited to making peace as a skeleton, so to speak. It won’t have any flesh; it won’t have any real substance.
This is where peacemaking as a spiritual reality comes in. An interesting thing about it is how it is interrelated to Jesus’ other beatitudes. The meek and the merciful, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: these and the others exemplify what peacemaking is all about.
We don’t magically become peacemakers. It takes practice; it takes work. It means facing the violence within ourselves. It is necessary to recognize the junk within—that which delights in misfortune, that which is fearful, that which doesn’t care for the other. That’s some messy business!
I ask myself, “How committed am I to peacemaking? How committed am I to wading through that messiness within? How willing am I to sift through the detritus and cacophony of violence in order to discover the purity and harmony that is always the gift of God?”
There’s a piece of peace to peacefully piece.