It seems very befitting to talk about peace during the Christmas season. If only we could celebrate Christmas all year long–we might even be able to achieve world peace!
However, the word peace can mean different things to different people. It can be a feeling of calmness, a state of tranquility, the absence of war or avoidance of conflict. In the Bible, the word peace often means to be in a state of completeness or wholeness, especially when it comes to vertical (man and God) and horizontal (between men) relationships.
On a personal level, this realization was deeply convicting to me, especially after the Beirut Explosion. I wondered, “How can I be a peacemaker when there is so much anger and bitterness in my heart towards the criminal negligence of our leaders? When deep down all I want is revenge and retribution?”
This is when I realized that peacemaking is painful. As followers of Christ, we are told to forego revenge and instead humble ourselves in trust and obedience to God even when we do not see the full picture or know His purpose. We have to stop telling God what we think He should be doing and start obeying his commandments. This includes the seemingly impossible and counterintuitive task of loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us (Mat 5:43-45)!!
Nevertheless, with surrender to God comes peace, God’s peace. It is a peace made available to us through the incarnation of God the Son, who invites us to be part of His family and share in His family likeness: “for they shall be called the sons of God”. As this beatitude indicates, peacemaking is the evidence that we are sons of our Heavenly Father and with it comes blessedness – joy – for as it is written in Proverbs 12:20: “those who plan peace have joy”.
This means that peacemakers are not withdrawn from the world or indifferent to problems around them, and that peacemaking is not avoidance or courteous disagreement. Peacemakers take the initiative, confront and speak the truth. Peacemaking convicts, ruffles feathers and disturbs the peace. However, when guided by love, mercy and humility, it should eventually lead to restoration and reconciliation between God and man and between fellow human beings.
Being a peacemaker is a muddy and complex road. But as the sons of God, it is our calling, our mandate.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” – John 14:27
This Christmas season, will you be a peacemaker?