Power of the peacemaker

I used to think I didn’t get politics. I thought I was doing it wrong.

I knew the people and the issues. But I wasn’t upset enough. I hadn’t embarked on any angry tirades.

Here’s the worst of it: I thought arguments on both sides were persuasive.

I took this as a sign that my convictions weren’t strong enough. I was wishy-washy; the dreaded flip flopper. So I stayed quiet and tried not to let anyone know that logic and research and compassion can tug me left and right of the center.

But I now know what I am. I’m not uninformed or disinterested: I’m a peacemaker.

And I’m not ashamed of that anymore. I no longer see my bent to cooperation as weakness. Because when I read this in scripture, it feels right:

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; and peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17, emphasis added).

This is wisdom. The other stuff, the noise, is pride.

The following sentence is one of my favorites:

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:18, emphasis added)

Often we try to force others, kicking and screaming, into some mold for righteousness. It doesn’t matter how you get them there, as long as you can shine it up for inspection and check the right boxes.

But this scripture tells me righteousness isn’t forced upon someone until they are wielded by its strength and finally submit.

It’s organic, yielded by sowing peace. Sowing – intentional, committed, repetitive efforts. Rarely is something sown haphazardly. You have to make the effort, do the work, choose not to walk away.

But the harvest, that’s out of my hands. I can weed and water, but I can’t create life. Righteousness comes on its own, from God, not from me. Not from force. My part, my job, is to sow peace.

This suits my nature – I’m driven to reconciliation and rebuilding bridges for the sake of the bigger picture.  I know it doesn’t fit everyone. But I feel like there are many of us bridge-builders out there, our voices drowned out by the noisy ones, not knowing our own numbers and strength.

To you, peacemakers, I say: keep it up.

Our political culture may call it weakness to listen to one another, change our minds, make concessions or cooperate. But I call it wisdom.

Don’t be ashamed to follow the path scripture calls “peaceloving,” “full of mercy,” “impartial and sincere.”

It is a crop of righteousness we are sowing. And not a fake, high-gloss gimmick. Something trustworthy.

My daughter was having some schoolyard drama the other day with a friend. I told her that her responses -her words and actions- can either fuel a destructive fire or douse it.

I told her I believe our role is to be peacemakers, not fire-feulers, and she can trust me on that. She knows me; knows I try to live it. Not perfectly, but intentionally.

I want her to stand up for herself and stand up for those who need her help, but I would rather teach her to approach conflict as a problem-solver than participate in sideshow fires of pride. Pride divides and refuses reconciliation. It’s a shiny, easy path, but it doesn’t go anywhere worthwhile.

I urged my daughter, with whatever power we’ve been given, big or small, that we not give wind and brittle kindling to the fires we come upon in life. We are born to be dousers. Our job is to be an oasis for a fire-weary world.

And honestly, I’d rather be known for that any day.

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