Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
When I went looking for a picture to go along with a Catch on making peace, I typed “peacemaker” in the image search engine, and got an array of pictures of a gun. Not quite what I expected. Apparently “peacemaker” is the name of a popular gun collector’s item, a Colt 45 that was the U.S. Army official service revolver from 1873-1892. I also found pictures of a very large aircraft — the Convair B-36 bomber — the largest mass-produced piston-engine aircraft ever made, and operated solely by the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1949 to 1959. It was designed specifically to carry nuclear weapons long distances and could travel almost halfway around the world without refueling.
In both of these instances, “peace” was maintained by way of the threat of destructive force. You will be peaceful because I’ve got the gun and I can blow you away. Or, Your country will be at peace with us because you know we have the capability of wiping your entire nation off the face of the earth.
Not quite the kind of peacemaker Jesus was talking about, and yet it is the kind of “peace” many Christians have taken up in the last few decades. There is a militant strain of Christianity that has evidenced itself ever since Christians gained power socially and politically in America. Under the guise of a culture war, Christians have taken to trying to win back lost values by force, as if a Colt 45 in hand would make the country a more Christian nation.
When Jesus talks about making peace, He means to come from a humble, sacrificial place, not a place of superior firepower. Our weapons are not protected by the NRA; they are weapons of righteousness and the power of love.
We’re not going to set back global conflicts or generations-old hatred, but we can bring peace to our sphere of influence. We can return good for evil, and pray for those who set themselves up as some kind of personal enemies. We can spread goodwill everywhere we go, and treat everyone with respect — no exceptions. We can take the lower place and lift up the fallen and the downcast. We can be peaceful and make peace with everyone who will accept it.
We have the most powerful weapons in the world at our disposal: they are the fruits of the Spirit, and they are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
This is the way we change the world as followers of Christ and representatives of the Gospel of Welcome, and as children of God, by making peace, not war.