St. Francis of Assisi recognized the need for humanity to walk in peace; his timeless words speak deeply to this week’s events. “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hate, may I bring love; Where offence, may I bring pardon; May I bring union in place of discord.”
These words must not become cliches. This week, we have all seen disturbing images of burning buildings and angry protesters. We have also seen protesters praying then linking arms with senior police linking arms in solidarity.
I see children placing flowers as parents explain the need to love their neighbour. White children holding up brown cardboard banners, crayoned words saying, “we are all the same,” “be nice,” “stop the killing.”
A young black girl holding her banner, “we are people, please stop fighting.”
In the constant bombardment of news, let us notice these peaceful and beautiful moments you may have missed.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers. They will be called the sons of God.” What is needed is a radical change in humanity for peace to grow.
The Hebrew word shalom speaks of the concept of wholeness and overall well-being. When a Jew says shalom, he is not just saying may you have no difficulties, but may you be complete, in the whole of your life.
God’s peace is not narrow. It is much more than the lack of conflict; it includes the whole person. It is a dynamic word with life-changing energy. Equally, both parts of the word “peacemakers,” describe one who actively pursues peace in its fullness. He pursues more than the absence of conflict; he pursues the wholeness and well-being of all people. The second half of the word is about action, not passive, but is a source of peace.
I had an interesting conversation with my children this week on how to be a peacemaker. We concluded that a peacemaker is characterized by honesty, and if we are not honest, we are plastering up the cracks.
Many avoid reality because they want peace, but a peacemaker needs to face reality. A peacemaker is humble, his ego is in hand, and he is loving, willing to risk pain and misunderstanding to make things right.
Peacemakers wage peace, and that is not comfortable. Peacemakers should never be thoughtless or pugnacious.
James wrote, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17-18) Let us walk in heaven’s wisdom in these turbulent days.
Phil Collins is Pastor at Willow Park Church Kelowna.