Have you ever thought about the difference between making peace and keeping the peace? Someone I love mentioned that it is possible to keep the peace, but not be a peace maker. There is a subtle, but important difference in the two terms. And we can easily think we are peacemakers when we are really just keeping the peace.
Jesus tells us peace makers are blessed. In the Sermon on the Mount He said peacemakers will be called sons of God. He came to bring peace between God and man. But Jesus was not a peacekeeper. He was anything but that! He drove out the money changers from the Temple and He was always pointing out the fallacies of the Pharisees’ rules. If He had just gone along with the Jewish leaders, He could have kept the peace and not been crucified. But then he would have missed the point of his living among us.
Making peace with others
Have you ever thought, “If we do these chores in a different way, it would be easier on everyone.” Then in the next instant realized, “But since we’ve always done it this way, better not rock the boat.” That’s keeping the peace.
This kind of peace keeping can lock couples and families into hurtful behaviors. One member of the family can make the emotional toll too high for anyone to even make suggestions of change. They may control by ridicule, criticism, emotional outbursts, or stonewalling. These responses may kill a relationship quickly or very slowly like water eroding a rock.
I always saw my dad as a peacemaker. But on reflection, I think he was more of a peacekeeper. He did not like confrontation, so he would bear with situations long after others knew change would make his life better. His keeping the peace allowed a status quo where God couldn’t make a lasting peace in that situation. However, in another way his peace keeping was good. We never had the grumbling and complaining I’ve heard in other homes. He saw no reason to voice irritations and disrupt the peace unnecessarily. If he could do something to help, he did. If he could ease someone else’s frustrations by calm words, he did. Peace was the atmosphere around dad most of the time.
Making Peace can be internal too.
I hate to make phone calls to agencies. I’ve been afraid I couldn’t explain what I needed or wouldn’t have all the information they’d want or wouldn’t be able to understand their accent. My helpful and kind husband usually offers to take care of that kind of call for me. I’ve been peaceful in my ‘fear.’
While we were in the US this time, there was a major problem that required an ‘official’ call to an agency that is characterized as gruff and unhelpful. But I was the one with the information that needed to be dealt with. We were running out of time before returning to Malaysia. Mike was out doing some other chores. After I tried to use the internet to solve the problem, I realized there was no other solution except for me to make the call. I prayed about it and asked my sister to pray for me too.
When my husband came home, he was shocked to see me on the phone with an agent, dealing with the problem! “Not Diane! Not with them!” Yes, it was true! God was merciful. The three agents I had to speak to were all kind, understanding, and helpful. I would have missed a huge blessing if I had tried to keep my peace instead of making peace with my emotions. This doesn’t make me want to make any and every call. But I am now at peace that I can make calls when necessary.
Take a moment to consider:
I will look for other ways I’ve been peacekeeper instead of being a peace maker. Can you think of areas in your life where you need to take the step to be a peace maker? It may mean some temporary disruption, but in the end, you will have made peace in that area.