Scripture: 1 Samuel 20-21, Psalm 34, Matthew 5
Matthew 5:9 Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children.
We are living in age of divisiveness. We are divided by race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, age, gender, money…the list goes on. We shout a lot and listen very little.
Jesus wants us to be peace makers. He wants us to work for peace. That starts by moving toward people who are different, befriending them, listening and understanding them, and so humanizing them.
This verse stood out to me today because of a confluence of three things.
First, this has been a theme for me for a while, reflected in the “Gracism” and “Befriend” series, and in my active pursuit of people who are very different from me. I’m actively building bridges.
Second, I was reading a sermon by Augustine (given in the early 400’s!) on the Beatitudes. About this verse, Augustine said, “Do you see two people quarreling? Be a promoter of peace between them. Say nice things about this one to that one, and about that one to this one. Do you hear one of them, apparently in anger, saying nasty things about the other? Don’t repeat them; suppress the abuse uttered by an angry individual, give honest thought to the business of reconciliation.”
We are not only to promote peace in our own relationships, but be an arbiter of peace between others. “Give honest thought to the business of reconciliation.”
Third, a friend sent me a link to a TED talk given by a young woman, Morgan Phelps-Roper, who was raised in Westboro Baptist Church. I watched it yesterday. She talks about how she got out of that cult. It was by people who listened to her, asked her questions, and then gently challenged her thinking. It was not by people shouting at her—the typical response that only hardened her resolve. Westboro Baptist spews hatred toward everyone. Morgan is now working to bridge divides and make peace. It starts with moving towards people who are different, and having a conversation. She cited four things these people did that helped her rethink her position:
1. Don’t assume bad intent.
2. Ask questions.
3. Stay calm.
4. Make the argument.
You can watch the video here:
Jesus wants us to work for peace. Build bridges, not walls.
Prayer: Lord, help me to work for peace today, to bring people together, to create friendship, not enmity. And use me to let people know that You have made peace with us in Jesus!