Editorial

Bumbling Peacemakers

By

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

It’s pretty easy to understand why there’s so much turmoil in our Christless world. As the saying goes, “No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace.” But how would we, having been commissioned to introduce Him to a race at odds with itself and God, rate our effectiveness as peacemakers? And what account would we give for all the conflict and strife within our own camp?

As the heirs to His gift of peace, what did we do with it? Did we lose it? Hide it? Trade it for a handful of magic beans? Allow it to be stolen when our backs were turned?

Lose it? It wouldn’t be the first time. The second and third chapters of the book of Revelation remind us that the Church has a way of losing its virtues and forsaking its first love. It’s certainly not something we set out to do; but when we get too distracted by our peripheral interests or too cozy in our posture, we often lose sight—and possession—of something far greater. Just ask any of the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25.

Hide it? Quite possibly. But why would devoted followers of Christ choose to bury something with revolutionary potential to beautify His Bride and transmute humanity? Perhaps for fear of exposure. It’s much safer to lay low. Keep to yourself. Avoid conflict. Reject risk. Escape ridicule. Elude scrutiny. Just ask the guy in Matthew 25 who buried his talent.

Trade it? Sadly so. The Church has allowed itself to be swept up in the current of self pursuit. We have joined the ranks of the freedom fighters for personal liberty and earthly justice while forsaking our heavenly appointment as Christ’s emissaries of peace. We’ve traded the olive branch for poison ivy. If criticized or challenged, we deny our bloodline by lopping off the ear of our persecutor. Just ask the guy with the sword in John 18.

Allow it to be stolen? Not surprisingly. Anything we don’t guard as precious is up for grabs. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. . .” (John 10:10). Our great adversary’s strategy for Christ’s Church is ridiculously simple yet agonizingly effective: divide and conquer. And we don’t need to look beyond the third pew to calculate his success rate. Just ask the two quarreling women in Philippians 4 who nearly split the church.

But take heart, aspiring peacemakers! Revivals are springing up as God’s people awaken to and expose the divisive ruses of the accuser and rediscover the power of forgiveness and repentance in bulldozing his long-standing citadels.

In this issue you’ll read about a wounded pastor who was called to serve as an agent of reconciliation in a church with a history of sweeping its past sins under the carpet (p. 8). You’ll better understand how your church’s handling of internal sin and conflict will make or break its effectiveness in fulfilling its Great Commission call (p. 6). Similarly, you’ll glean how important our choice of words can be when it comes to our success as peacemakers (p. 18). You’ll discover how God turned horrific persecution into unspeakable joy in a remote village in Burkina Faso (p. 14). And you’ll agonize with veteran C&MA missionaries in their ongoing efforts to settle a widespread, violent conflict that threatens to split the national church they deeply love and helped build (p. 20).

Through these accounts you’ll also be reminded, as I was, that the path of the peacemaker is blazed with surrender and sacrifice; humility and self-denial; patience and perseverance; and, above all, submission to the Lordship of the Prince of peacemakers and radical love for His sheep—whether inside or outside the fold.

And by the way, the guy with the sword in John 18 eventually figured it out. He’s the same well-meaning but often misstepping disciple to whom Jesus declared, “. . . you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:18).

Pretty good news for any bumbling peacemaker, wouldn’t you say?

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