One of Jesus’ beatitudes is “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Someone pointed out to me a long time ago that it doesn’t say blessed are the peacekeepers, but peacemakers.
The difference between those two words is subtle, but strong. Peacekeepers work to maintain the peace that already exists, whereas peacemakers create the peace where there is none.
The first is difficult, but I would argue that the second is even more so.
Abraham the Peacemaker
In Genesis 13, we have one of most vivid examples of low-key peacemaking in all of Scripture, at least in my opinion.
The herds of Lot and Abraham are getting larger, so naturally the number of shepherds grows as well. This creates some “quarreling” between the two groups — each no doubt loyal to their master over the other one.
Abraham recognizes this disagreement and rightfully goes to Lot for a resolution. Instead of us staying together, he argues, why not split up? There’s plenty of room for both of us.
Then, as an incentive, he offers Lot the option of taking whatever land he would prefer. Lot chooses the good soil, and leaves Abraham with the “less desirable” land of Canaan.
A couple things to note here. First, Abraham took the initiative in going to Lot with a problem. Most people refuse to even do that, choosing rather to ignore the problem and/or rationalize it away by saying that it’s “not my responsibility.”
Second, Abraham greases the wheels by allowing Lot to choose whatever he wants. That’s the act of a true peacemaker: Someone that’s not committed to peace would take one for themselves and leave the second option for the other person.
Strive For Peace
This type of sacrificial peace making is sorely lacking in humanity — both now and since the beginning of time.
We want peace, but we want it on our terms. We’re more than happy to try and create a solution, but only if it primarily benefits us. That not only doesn’t create peace, it actually makes the situation worse by generating strife between two parties.
Instead, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:7, we should even be willing to “be defrauded,” if it means keeping the relationship alive. Not forever, obviously, but in times of sharp disagreement in which no one will win if the status quo remains the same, we should be willing to give to save the relationship.
Are you willing to do that?