I am not a natural peacemaker.
Those who know me and have spent lots of time with me may at first be shocked by this fact. I know myself well enough to see that I gravitate towards seeking out the right and wrong. I am pretty bold in my statements, to the point where I, at times cause, much tension…and can be okay with that.
I am driven by a gut belief that healthy tension is needed
to help people realize what they truly believe and value.
My inclination to point out right and wrong has and will continue to cause waves in my life, leaving those around me wondering who the heck I think I am and why I would say such things.
Quite honestly, I don’t fully understand myself either.
What I do believe is that God understands me. I believe He has created me, and others like me, for the purpose of revealing that without His truth and justice, peace cannot last.
As I don my former high school World History teacher hat, may I direct your attention to September 1938? Then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned to his home in Downing Street after giving report to His Royal Majesty King George VI of the peace agreement made with Adolf Hitler. In order to appease Hitler and maintain peace in Europe, Chamberlain agrees to relinquish the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, with the promise that Hitler would not invade the rest of Czechoslovakia nor enter into war.
Spoiler Alert: Hitler ended up taking all of Czechoslovakia anyway.
What is most ironic about this situation was how Chamberlain both viewed and spoke of the agreement.
“My good friends, this is the second time in our history
that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street
peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time.”
By “honoring” Hitler’s desire for “just the Sudetenland,” and the desire of a world that had recently come out of “The Great War” (aka World War One), he believed peace could be had. Chamberlain was a peacemaker.
But that peace was one founded on a lie. Hitler’s true motive was to build the German empire, what he called, “The Third Reich,” by uniting an Aryan race of ALL European German speaking people under a single regime. Leaders like Chamberlain were giving someone already bent on domination additional fuel with the belief “that Britain and France were afraid of him and would not step in to stop him, no matter what he did.” [BBC, 2020] Built without a foundation of truth of Hitler’s motives nor justice for the dissenting Czechs, who were given no voice or choice in the matter, this peace that Chamberlain had worked and hoped for could not last. Eventually, Europe and the rest of the world would be entering World War Two a year later on September 1, 1939.
So how do peace, truth, and justice work together in God’s heart?
In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” [Matthew 5:9, New Living Translation] It’s true, and luckily for me, God placed individuals in my life who spur me on towards working for peace, despite my lack of natural proficiency. Natural peacemakers, who have spoken and shown what this working for peace entails. It is only after being softened, molded, and honed over 40 years of life that I have reached a point where I am able to work for peace as much as I do.
But I also believe in what is said just a few verses prior, where Jesus said, “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice (or for righteousness), for they will be satisfied.” [Matthew 5:6, New Living Translation]
Both those seeking peace AND justice are blessed by God.
Perhaps this is why history has found that peace without justice and truth festers with underlying contempt, corruption, or simply distrust and discontent that cannot remain buried for long. Perhaps it is for this reason, God created some with a heart for seeking Godly justice and truth, some with the gifting of peacemaking among humanity, and some lucky ones who balance the two better than the rest of us.
So how are we called to carry out His justice and truth?
“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” [Micah 6:8, NLT]
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” [Isaiah 1:17, NLT]
God calls us to justice focused on loving others and not ourselves. He also calls us to love mercy, acting in compassion and empathy towards those whom He has given each of us the power to do. And we do all this in humility, understanding that justice is not something we can demand, being as broken and sinful as we are.
Justice belongs to the Lord. He has simply given us
the privilege to take part in His mission for justice.
When we heed God’s call to justice, mercy, and humility, it is then that a peace that surpasses our understanding can be found…a kind of peace that lasts and is worth fighting for.
The kind of peace that I want to fight for.
Klein, Christopher. “Chamberlain Declares ‘Peace for Our Time’.” History, UPDATED: 3 JAN 3 2020 (ORIGINAL: 30 SEP 2013), https://www.history.com/news/chamberlain-declares-peace-for-our-time-75-years-ago.
Chamberlain and Appeasement. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/ztydcwx/revision/4.
New Living Translation. YouVersion, www.bible.com. Accessed 15 May 2020.