121 – Be a Peacemaker

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Be a Peacemaker Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungIt seems the world has never been so troubled, so divided, so overflowing with anger and violence. And yet, it has. Our world, our nation, have seen all of this before. Humanity has lived through it and come out stronger and better. And here’s the thing. We can combine our skill with words and our faith in God to be a part of the solution for today’s struggles. How? By becoming a peacemaker.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

There’s no way around it. The world seems to have gone crazy. Our nation has never seen such turmoil, such anger and senseless violence. Killing, destruction, hatred and vitriol. Such division. 

And now Christians are coming under fire. Social media is blocking people for “hate speech” when they share truth from sermons or devotionals. People’s accounts are being suspended for quoting the Bible. Black Lives Matter activists are calling for the destruction of all the church stained-glass windows and all statues depicting a white Jesus and/or Mary. Governors allowed bars to open up in the face of COVID, but churches? Not so much. 

People are saying, “It’s never been this awful before!”

Or has it? 

So many people have been saying lately that things have never been “this bad” in the world or in America. But human history from the beginning of time is rife with conflict, anger, wars, rebellion, and all the horrible things people do to each other. Consider the Old Testament. Nations were destroying nations all over the place. 

God’s chosen people constantly rebelled against God. To the point He scattered them and let other nations take them captive and turn them into slaves. Here’s how Jeremiah describes it in the beginning of Lamentations: 

“Jerusalem, once so full of people, is now deserted. She who was once great among the nations now sits alone like a widow. Once the queen of all the earth, she is now a slave. She sobs through the night; tears stream down her cheeks. Among all her lovers, there is no one left to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her and become her enemies. Judah has been led away into captivity, oppressed with cruel slavery. She lives among foreign nations and has no place of rest. Her enemies have chased her down, and she has nowhere to turn. The roads to Jerusalem are in mourning, for crowds no longer come to celebrate the festivals. The city gates are silent, her priests groan, her young women are crying—how bitter is her fate! Her oppressors have become her masters, and her enemies prosper, for the Lord has punished Jerusalem for her many sins. Her children have been captured and taken away to distant lands.” Lamentations 1:1-5

Even when God freed Israel from Egypt, they complained and grumbled and made their human leaders into the bad guys. 

Then there’s the New Testament: full of wars and conflict and rebellion. One culture hating another, one religious system trying to destroy others. Political parties at war, no matter the cost to the peopleWorld history overflows with similar turmoil and conflict. 

America has seen horrific times of anger and plague and turmoil such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, 1920s Prohibition (which was the birth of organized crime), the Civil Rights Movement, the Detroit riots in ’67, and on and on. 

Yes, what’s happening now, in 2020, is terrible. But friends, we’ve been here before. Too many times to count. And through it all—through all the anger and violence and division and sickness and bloodshed—God has been with us. 

So how, as Christians and writers, should we respond to all that’s going on? To the accusation of “cultural appropriation” and “white privilege” and systemic racism and so much more? Can we become part of the solution? 

Yes. By taking Matthew 5:9 to heart: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” 

We need peacemakers. People who seek God’s truth with a spirit like it says in James 3:17: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” 

As those who know the Prince of Peace, and who are using their ability to write to serve that Prince, we surrender our desire or need to be “right” and instead draw the lost and angry and disenfranchised into God’s peace. Which doesn’t necessarily mean unity of thought. 

Sometimes it means agreeing to disagree. But with pure motives, being gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy. I know, we just read all that a moment ago. But with the noise all around us it bore repeating. 

What a peacemaker is not

Let’s look first at what a peacemaker isn’t. 

Peacemakers aren’t “peacekeepers.” They’re not stepping in to ensure everyone acts and talks and does what they’re supposed to. They’re not there to police, but to serve. 

Peacemakers don’t try to gloss things over with clichés or appeasement, to offer easy answers for complex conflicts. In fact, they don’t offer answers at all.

Peacemakers don’t run from confrontation, nor do they stand by silent when wrong is done. 

Conversely, peacemakers don’t jump into every debate or argument with both feet. Doing that results in two of the enemy’s best deterrents to peace: distraction and emotional entanglement

Distraction

Webster’s defines a distraction as “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.” 

There’s nothing Satan likes better than to get a purposeful believer, one who is seeking to draw others into peace, derailed. As the would-be peacemaker goes sailing down a rabbit trail (such as trying to engage people in reasonable discussion on social media), Satan’s laughter echoes in the supernatural realm. 

Emotional Entanglement

As for emotional entanglements, boy howdy, those are wicked. There you are, all focused on God’s truth and peace, when someone says something utterly false about you or God, or something so insulting you want to strangle them (not that I would ever do such a thing), or writes a 1-star review that they hated your book because the cover was ugly and it’s so clear they didn’t even read it…and wham! Your emotions slam into full gear and all you can think about is setting the record straight. 

So much for peace.  

As you seek to be a peacemaker, keep an eye out for distractions and emotional entanglements. You can’t afford either one. Neither can those God is asking you to help.

What a Godly peacemaker is

Godly peacemakers ask God to deliver them from self-interest. As a result, they don’t look at things in terms of how it affects them personally. They can listen and understand based on God’s perception, not their own.  

Peacemakers focus on the glory of God and how they can best promote that glory in situations of conflict.

Peacemakers reflect on God’s word, consider others’ perspectives, and take responsibility for their own actions and how they influence others. 

A peacemaker also follows James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  You have to purpose to do that. It won’t just happen.

Godly peacemakers pursue peace, but they understand that God is the only One who can bring peace. Peacemakers are there as a bridge, so that God can use them to draw people into a new understanding or realization of peace.

A peacemaker also sees peace as it’s presented in the Bible, understanding that it’s based on God’s righteousness and justice. Peace doesn’t come from our worth or our actions or words or thoughts. It stems from God’s righteousness and justice. 

To help us get our minds around that, here are a few Scriptures about God’s righteousness and justice: 

“Shall not He render to every man according to His works? What peace to know God is fair.” Proverbs 24:12

“[God’s] work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4

“But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.” Psalm 9:7-8

We’re not at the mercy of a judge who can be bribed or influenced. He is righteous and upright!

So, a godly peacemaker recognizes that God’s justice is not tied to us and our character, but to HIM and His character. 

Godly peacemakers also know God’s justice, which is the source of true peace, isn’t tied to our human timetable. We may see things that seem wrong and sinful, and yet the perpetrators never seem to suffer or be punished. But peacemakers know it’s not our job to mete out justice. We don’t have the authority. And remember that God often uses the evil of this world to discipline and teach His people. 

It’s not a happy thought, but it is true that God’s justice sometimes means the righteous suffer. When God sent the nation of Israel into exile, not every single person was sinning against Him. But the nation had turned its back on Him, and so He punished His people as a whole. America has been turning its back on Him for decades. It may well be that the large-scale violence and sin happening today is a result of God removing His hand of blessing from our nation. And if that is what’s happening, we need peacemakers more than ever. 

How to be a peacemaker

Pray. Seek God’s will. Does He want you to take on being a peacemaker in your life or in your writing? We’re all called to this in our writing, though, aren’t we? To help people see a different point of view, to help see the humanity of everyone (not just people like themselves), to bring understanding and compassion.

But this has to be a mindset. It has to be the way we train ourselves to think first, and then write. That’s why it starts with prayer and seeking God, and focusing on Him. He’s the one who transforms our mind.

Pursue peace inside yourself. You cannot pursue peace for others until you find God’s peace within yourself. Ask God to set you free from the hindrances that keep you from His peace or from really listening to or showing respect to others. What’s keeping you from staying grounded in God so that when you speak or react, it’s from a place of His peace?

That’s especially important in our writing. We have to be so careful that we don’t portray characters who come from a different side of an issue as the villains. If you write a novel of a young woman wanting an abortion, you can’t paint her as a villain. You can’t paint the abortionist as a monster. You have to acknowledge that there are reasons for opposing views, and then show God’s truth and spirit changing people.  

Listen. Listen to those on all sides of the issues, seeking to understand where those engaging in the dispute are coming from. Always remember, our pasts influence our present. Even more than that, our personal perspectives of our pasts influence us.

That doesn’t mean it’s okay to use the past to excuse bad behavior in the present. Simply that a godly peacemaker—and writer—needs to understand where people on both sides are coming from due to experience and the emotions triggered by those experiences. 

Admit when you’re wrong. If you realize you’ve misunderstood something, or that you didn’t really think the way you thought you did, admit it. If you come to understand that your words or actions may have wounded someone else, admit it. And ask for forgiveness. Humble yourself before God and those you seek to draw into peace. 

A roadmap to peacemaking 

When you’ve come to a place of God’s peace within yourself, then you’ll be open and sensitive to the times God calls you to action as a peacemaker, whether He calls you to take part in person in a disagreement or debate or calls you to address things in your writing. When that happens, consider 1 Peter 3:8-17 your roadmap.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8

  • Be like-minded, but in this context not with those you are speaking with or writing  to, but with Christ and the Father. Let them strip you of self-interest, so that your only desire is to draw others into peace and truth. 
  • Be sympathetic, which means you can understand what others are feeling. Open yourself to the hurts and wounds of others. Care about others’ problems and suffering, but do so without assigning blame to anyone. 
  • Be loving. Which means keeping 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as your guideline:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

  • Be compassionate, meaning you actively seek to relieve others’ suffering. 
  • Be humble. Remember, you are not the one with the answers. This isn’t about you. It’s about God and allowing Him to use you as He sees fit.  

Verses 9-12 are the perfect guidelines for responding when those you are talking to or those who read your books get angry or frustrated with you or what you’re saying or writing. 

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:9-12

So what happens if you try doing as God is asking, try to be a peacemaker, and it goes horribly wrong? That’s where verses 13-17 come in:

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.“ 1 Peter 3:13-17

The Bottom Line

When we understand that yes, the world has been this full of chaos and violence before; and when we see the need and blessing of peacemakers, especially in a world as divided as ours now; and when we understand how God can use us to be peacemakers in our community and relationships and writing, the condition of the world doesn’t affect us. Because we’re grounded in God’s peace, secure in His justice and righteousness, and secure in the knowledge that this world is not our home. But while we’re here, we can be honored by and delight in His desire to use us to reveal Him to a dark and hurting world. 

A writer’s best response for writers to the horrible things going on today? Be a peacemaker. Come hear how! #amwriting @karenball1 Click To Tweet
We want to hear from you!

What do you think of writers being peacemakers? Are there ways you can be a peacemaker with your writing?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our July sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow. She’s a writer and speaker at women’s retreats. Her book, Blood Beneath the Pines is a tale of prevailing justice, set mostly in the Deep South.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous sound editing!

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4 comments

  1. Kristi Holl says:

    Thank you for putting words to something I’ve been struggling with for weeks. When you are criticized by Christians both for speaking up and for NOT speaking out and entering the fray, it becomes confusing and hard to know what God would have us to do. Am I a quiet peacemaker, or am I fearful of drawing attack? It is sometimes hard to know.

    • Karen Ball says:

      This is why it’s so important to ignore the voices and listen for the Master. When we focus on Him and His word, when we seek His guidance, He’ll let us know what He wants us to do. Then we can act or speak—or not—in peace.

      • Kristi says:

        Thank you! And it has to be on a case-by-case basis, I think. Sometimes I sense the Holy Spirit say to speak up. And then later, in a very similar circumstance, I get the opposite nudge. And in both cases, some will applaud you and some will really disagree. But that can’t determine when we speak up.

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