Last week we talked about shifting our sense of value and purpose away from pleasing our family members and towards pleasing the Lord. But even if you get a handle on your attitude towards family members, there are still going to be tensions and difficulties. How would God have you respond to the relational problems in your family? My closest relatives are seven hours away, but when I receive news on dynamics going on in my family, I keep thinking to myself, “Moving away really has its benefits!”
Whenever I hear of a new family problem, my tendency is to smile, nod, and move on! But 2 Corinthians 5 charges us with being Christ’s ambassadors here on earth. We are called to be peacemakers.
Peacemaking is active. When you take a sinful person with their pride, insecurities and selfish desires and put them in close proximity with another sinful person with pride, insecurities, and selfish desires, the natural trajectory is towards conflict, not peace. Left untended, a relationship does not self correct towards peace. Sweeping them under the rug isn’t a solution. We all know that they don’t really go away, they just collect, simmer, and come back later bigger and more complicated. Peacemaking is active (Matthew 5:9; Romans 14:19 & Hebrews 12:14). Peace-keeping is passive; it’s simply stopping the fight from escalating. Peace-making is wading into the situation, getting down in the mud, and restoring a right relationship. Peacemakers must be active.
Peacemaking is risky. Avoiding the conflict in your family carries little to no risk for you. You get to stay neutral, stay out of it, and stay on everyone’s good side. As appealing as that sounds, it also means that you’re missing an opportunity to move your family members towards reconciliation rather than letting things bubble under the surface. Peacemaking puts you squarely in the middle of the situation you’d much rather view from a distance. A story from the life of David illustrates the risky nature of peacemaking (1 Samuel 25:2-42). Verse 25 reveals that this is not the first time this godly woman played the role of the peacemaker. She could have packed up and headed the opposite direction and left others to deal with the consequences. But instead she inserted herself in the middle of the conflict and averted a great disaster.
Peacemaking is costly. If you are going to engage in peace-making, you’re probably going to take some shots that you didn’t deserve and could have easily avoided if you just stayed out of it. You might even find yourself with both parties more upset with you than they were with each other to begin with. Why would we ever want to do that? Because that’s what Christ did for us (Colossians 1:19-22). Jesus repaired the relational conflict between God and man that we are incapable of repairing (Isaiah 59:2). Isaiah 53 shows Jesus as the ultimate peacemaker. We also should involve ourselves in conflicts because our ultimate goal is to become like Christ.
Peacemaking is rewarding. James 3:17-18 shows the law of sowing and reaping at work. Sowing peace produces righteousness. It brings us into alignment with the character of the Lord. Sooner or later it will bring an exponential return of righteousness (Galatians 6:7-9). Some of us get to see the fruit of peacemaking in our lifetimes, but all peacemakers ultimately are rewarded (Matthew 5:12 & Hebrews 12:2).
Peacemaking is active—the default setting of our world and our families is not peace. We have to work for it. Peacemaking is risky—we have to be willing to put ourselves in the middle of conflict rather than ignore it or run away from it. Peacemaking is costly—being a peacemaker can mean taking on consequences and punishment that don’t really belong to you. But that’s how Jesus won peace between God and man. Peacemaking is rewarding—whether in this life or the next, God produces a harvest of righteousness for those who sow peace.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- If there are tensions in your family, come up with a plan for how you can lovingly work to bring peace. Avoid taking sides or gossiping. Help both sides work towards forgiveness and restoration.
- Read Isaiah 53 this week. Focus on the peacemaking efforts of Christ and the great cost at which peace with God was won on our behalf.
Take One Step
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)