There's no denying the fact that our country and the world is filled with conflict and violence of every sort.  We watch the evening news in numb disbelief.  During this past year we not only discovered that we're not safe in the workplace, but we learned that our children are not safe at school, we're not safe in our cars driving down the road and one month ago on a Thursday evening in Dallas, Texas, senseless violence was taken to a disturbing new level as a deranged gunman walked into a parking garage and began shooting at police officers.

It's not uncommon for us to think that this kind of violence is unique to our culture, but the reality is, there has always been violence and conflict.  The Society of International Law in London reports that during the last four millennia there have only been 268 years of peace.  There have been over 15,000 known wars from 36 BC to the present date.  Over 8,000 treaties have been made and broken.  Despite the peacemaking efforts of organizations such as the League of Nations, NATO and the United Nations, since 1945 there have been over 85 wars and over 105 nations have been involved in armed conflict.  All of this caused an insightful cynic to say, "Peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload."

Whenever you find yourself embroiled in a conflict, have you ever noticed how quickly your human nature kicks into gear?  Your human nature says, "Don't let people run over you!  Win the argument!  Come out on top!  If someone is nasty to you, dish it right back!  Don't get mad, get even!"  But, Jesus in Matthew chapter five and verse nine of the beatitudes exhorts us to be agents of reconciliation.  He says, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God." Even though you are sinner by nature and by choice and are worthy of eternal condemnation, the Bible is the story of God taking the initiative to reconcile you to Himself. God is a peace-making, peace-loving God!

Because you now have peace with God, Jesus calls you to be a peacemaker. This is not an easy task but Jesus in the text says (not simply suggesting) Christ-followers are peacemakers and peacemakers build bridges of reconciliation and peace to others. I’ve learned over the years that conflict is not resolved accidentally. It requires intentionality. If it is avoided it just gets worse with time. How much time have you wasted stewing over ruptures in relationships with a spouse, a family member, one of your children, a co-worker, a neighbor, or someone at church? Are you hoping it will just go away? How much sleep has been lost because you can’t get it off your mind?

Oh that we in these days of conflict and violence would allow the peace of Christ to prevail. I urge you to consider this 13th Century prayer by St. Francis of Assisi to be your prayer as you flesh out your role in being a peacemaker where you live. “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.  Where there is injury, pardon.  Where there is doubt, faith.  Where there is despair, hope.  Where there is darkness, light.  Where there is sadness, joy.  O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console.  To be understood, as to understand.  To be loved, as to love.  For it is in giving we receive.  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.  It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”


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