By Robert Stearns
This next generation will be intentional in reconciliation. It will embrace the strengths found in other cultures and seek to honor others and learn from them.
There was a song in the seventies that said that love is what the world needs now. This is definitely true! We have only to look at the global tensions to see how desperate we are for peace: Israel vs. Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran; Hindus vs. Muslims in India; Islamofascism vs. civilization in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and the Americas; and racial strife throughout the United States. It seems that the more we talk about multiculturalism and acceptance, the less tolerance we have toward one another.
In the midst of this cultural war zone, Jesus has called believers to be the peacemakers. He has called us to become a force for justice and peace in the midst of troubled times. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). If you study this word peacemaker in the Greek, it carries the idea of action behind it. In other words, it is not saying blessed are those who simply keep to themselves and hope everyone else does the same. To the contrary, the idea expressed here is that we will be called the sons of God if we actively seek to bring about peace in situations where there is strife and division. This verse carries with it the call to intentionality.
The classic Adam Clarke Commentary describes the activity required of peacemakers. A peace-maker is a man who, being endowed with a generous public spirit, labours for the public good, and feels his own interest promoted in promoting that of others: therefore, instead of fanning the fire of strife, he uses his influence and wisdom to reconcile the contending parties, adjust their differences, and restore them to a state of unity. As all men are represented to be in a state of hostility to God and each other, the Gospel is called the Gospel of peace, because it tends to reconcile men to God and to each other.1
Throughout the Body of Christ, we are being called to reconciliation. Dividing walls are being broken down—Jew and Gentile, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, old and young, male and female, rich and poor. The Body is beginning to understand how desperately all parts are needed. We cannot be complete until each portion and each member of the Body is released into the fullness of their divine purpose. How may we hasten this process? How do we become peacemakers?
Part of the answer is personal repentance. Personal repentance is honestly acknowledging whatever strongholds, or negative “houses of thought” (thought patterns), we have harbored. Have we secretly thought less of those from a culture different from our own? Have we thought them lazy? Elitist? Irresponsible? Self-centered? Do we harbor fear about those who are different from us? Have we entertained stereotypes and generalizations and reinforced them to our families and friends? Have we actively sought out those different from us—white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Jew, rich, poor, less-educated, more-educated? Have we reached out with a hand of friendship, offering acceptance and relationship? If we are simply content to declare our innocence —“I am not a racist!”—but put no action to our words, then our statements, without works, are dead. (See James 2:20.)
Ask yourself these questions: Am I actively pursuing relationship with anyone whose background is very different from my own? Am I seeking to understand them—their background, their frame of reference? Am I providing opportunities for real dialogue to occur? If not, commit to it now. Commit to growing in relationship with someone from a background very different from your own. Far from the heart of the self-righteous Pharisee, who thanked God that he was not like other sinners (Luke 18:9-14), there is a cry rising up deep in our souls that says we are indeed sinners and that we who are of the household of faith are all the more responsible because of the great measure of grace that has been poured out upon us.
This selection was taken from Prepare the Way (or Get Out of the Way!) by Robert Stearns, available on www.kairosresourcecenter.com.
1 Adam Clarke Commentary, cited in PC Study Bible (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft), ver. 2.1.
Robert Stearns is the founder and executive director of Eagles' Wings, an international relational network of believers, churches, and ministries committed to the lifestyle of biblical spirituality, the unity of the Body of Christ, and God’s enduring covenant with Israel. Robert also serves as co-chairman of the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, and is the Publisher of KAIROS Magazine.