Once again I want to address a very practical question, the kind of query I get from people who want to take God’s truth and live it out in their daily lives. So here’s a question that I can imagine being asked by such a person: “Mark, there are so many ways to be involved in God’s peacemaking work that I feel overwhelmed. I don’t even know where to start. I care about so many different issues. What should I do to begin living as a peacemaker?”
First, look at what is right in front of you. Chances are that you’ll find numerous opportunities to be a peacemaker right in your own home, or in your classroom, or in your office, or in your neighborhood, or in your church. Ask the Lord to show you how you can share his peace with those who share your life each day.
Second, ask God for direction concerning which ministry of peacemaking to invest in. Beware of the tendency to get over-involved. Doing more than you have time to do will quickly steal away your inner peace, and thereby enfeeble your attempts to be a peacemaker for others. Frankly, I’ve watched too many well-meaning Christians exhaust themselves so much in various worthy causes that they have little time left for their own families. Not a good peacemaking plan!
Third, what is your passion? Often God directs us through our convictions and strong feelings. If you have an abiding concern about racial injustice, for example, that may be God’s way of directing you to a ministry committed to racial reconciliation. When we act on our passions, we tend to have more energy and “stick-to-itiveness.” My only word of warning is that sometimes people who are passionate about an issue can have such strong emotions that they don’t think clearly about it. (Photo: Many members of my church in Irvine had a passion for orphaned children in Swaziland. Many individuals and families from the church went to serve these children, building dorms, schools, and churches.)
Fourth, always seek God’s will through studying and meditating upon Scripture. You may hear the Spirit’s voice as you reflect upon what the Spirit has already said in the Bible.
Fifth, allow your Christian community to help you discern where to invest your energies as a member of God’s peacemaking team. When your brothers and sisters listen to you and pray with you for guidance, they’ll also help you to distinguish between God’s call and your own immature enthusiasm.
Sixth, don’t just sit there, do something! Now I don’t mean to suggest that you rush unthinkingly into some long-term commitment. But all too often well-intentioned people think about all the good they could do in the world without lifting a finger to make a real difference. So, even if you’re not sure what you’d like to do for years and years, find some short-term cause and get busy.
This post is part of a series: Seeking the Peace of Christ: Peacemaking and Christianity. You can read or link to the series by clicking on the series title.