the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
One of the recurring questions of my life is, “what does faithfulness look like?” Another way to put it would be, “what is a peacemaker really?” It’s easy for me to be inspired by the poetry of scripture. The beatitudes in particular have beautifully constructed phrases and images that make me feel good about my faith. Yet, when I try to become a peacemaker, I have a hard time knowing where to start. While I’ve never heard anyone define a peacemaker well, I think we know it when we see it. This is why the witness of those who have come before is so important.
So what does peacemaking look like?
It looks like former President Jimmy Carter. I wasn’t alive during the Carter administration but I grew up with images of him working with Habitat for Humanity. What kind of person with power and means spends their life building houses for the poor? A peacemaker. President Carter has spent decades working for human rights nationally and internationally, advocating for racial equality, gender equality, and cessation of violence at home and around the world. What do you call someone who advocates for people they do not know? A peacemaker. President Carter has demonstrated a deep Christian faith and commitment to his congregation. Even so, he has spoken out when his denomination (the Southern Baptist Convention) barred women from leadership; a move he deems a willful misinterpretation of scripture. What do you call someone who dedicates their life to a particular people but is still willing to risk that relationship by speaking unwelcome truths? Who puts faithfulness to God over blind adherence to dogma? A son of God.
It also looks like Grandma Esther. I think every congregation has (or needs) a contingent of the faithful “little old ladies” who are the heart and soul of the congregation. In my church growing up it was a woman named Esther who we adopted as “grandma.” Grandma Ester never did anything at a national or international level but she took care of her community. She knew when people were struggling financially and would invite them over for dinners, often fancier dinners then she would make for herself. What do you call someone who quiets the belly’s of the hungry? A peacemaker. She was aware of everybody’s situations. If the firehouse had had a difficult week, they would get a plate of cookies and maybe some drawings from her Sunday School class. If the single mom next door was in a bind and needed last minute child care, Grandma Esther was there. What do you call someone who acknowledges and soothes anxious hearts? A peacemaker. Grandma Esther was a Sunday School teacher for as long as I can remember. She taught many of us to value reading the Bible and made us memorize scriptures that she believed would serve us later in life. It didn’t matter if you graduated from her class or even from high school, once you were one of her kids, you were always one of her kids. I even got letters from her periodically when I was in college. What do you call someone who models the love of Christ in a way that makes others know that they are loved? A daughter of God.
Who are the peacemakers in your life? What can we learn about how to live out our faith from their examples? How are we leaving the world more peaceful than we have found it? I would love it if you would share your stories in the comments. We can always use more examples of how to live out our faith in beautiful and meaningful ways.
Lord, we ask that you would open our eyes to notice the peacemakers in our midst.
Increase our capacity for peacemaking.
Help us to live into our identity as daughters and sons of God.