Why the opposite of peace isn’t what you think it is

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April 29, 2014

Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. 

CONSIDER THIS. . .

War  begins with a declaration. Not so with peace. Declaring peace does not make it so. Peace must be made.

THE SERMON makes a decisive turn to the realm of community. To this point, Jesus focuses on the deep inward dispositions and attitudes of heart and mind. Note he doesn’t speak of the “Peace Lovers” or the “peaceful in spirit.” It is as though these inward dispositions are now called forth into a holy synergy, the outward expression of which is peace making.

I have long held a truncated understanding of being a peacemaker. I have mostly thought of it as standing between conflicting parties and trying to bring reconciliation. I assume I need a conflict in order to act as a peacemaker. I wrongly think of peace as the opposite of war. The opposite of peace is not war but anxiety. War comes as a result of compounded anxiety.

Peacemaking goes far beyond conflict resolution by beginning long before it. Peacemakers preempt conflict by averting anxiety. Peacemaking is a way of being in the world. Anxiety overwhelms through fearful insecurity. Peace quietly subverts by embracing chaos. Anxiety spreads like a contagion. Peace works like a vaccine.

Consider Wesley’s take:

Hence we may easily learn, in how wide a sense the term peacemakers is to be understood. In its literal meaning it implies those lovers of God and man who utterly detest and abhor all strife and debate, all variance and contention; and accordingly labor with all their might, either to prevent this fire of hell from being kindled, or, when it is kindled, from breaking out, or, when it is broke out, from spreading any farther. They endeavor to calm the stormy spirits of men, to quiet their turbulent passions, to soften the minds of contending parties, and, if possible, reconcile them to each other. They use all innocent arts, and employ all their strength, all the talents which God has given them, as well to preserve peace where it is, as to restore it where it is not. It is the joy of their heart to promote, to confirm, to increase, mutual goodwill among men. . .p.53.

So, how does one move from being a person characterized by anxiety to being a person of peace and peacemaking? Take an extra three minutes and study this passage  to see.

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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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