Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God...Matthew 5:9
Peacemaking and peacekeeping are two terms that can often be confused with one another. The extremes of liberalism and conservatism each use these terms to benefit their own agendas, and often the meaning of peace making and peacekeeping become co-opted. Generally speaking, peacemaking tends to describe actions that bring about the condition of peace. Those who consider themselves peacemakers often use non-violent strategies that model and begin the implementation of peaceful resolutions.
Peacekeeping, on the other hand, is generally understood as the means of enforcing the conditions that allow for others to co-exist peacefully. The irony of the situation is that peacekeepers often do so through the threat of violence. Ideally this seems antithetical, but in reality there is evil in this world that must be restrained with force. Weeds must be pulled to keep a garden healthy. Terrorists attack without remorse or conscience. Disease infests our minds and bodies and must be destroyed or managed.
The true difficulty is found in the fact that while we have a certain responsibility to manage the conditions of peace, we are always in danger of becoming the monster we wish to destroy. That is why our true calling is to be peacemakers. Yes, the conditions that make for peace must be kept. But if we place our trust in human strength alone, we find ourselves in a position of weakness.
This month we will collect the peacemaking offering to support local, regional, and international ministries that create and maintain conditions for peace. Though peace can be elusive at times, I believe Martin Luther King Jr.’s position is consistent with the Bible and the PC(USA). Dr. King once stated, “peace is not the absence of violence, but the presence of justice.”
Justice, by King’s standards and by those of the King of Kings, means that human power is not the answer to the ills of society. It means that we, as the church and members of it, must seek ways to create opportunities for God to act within our hearts, relationships, and actions. Not because God needs our permission to act, but because God desires our cooperation. In our hearts, homes, and communities, let us be peacemakers, and to God be the glory!