Christianity and Peacemaking
by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts
Copyright Â© 2010 by Mark D. Roberts
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Seeking the Peace of Christ: Introduction
This is the first part of a series I’m calling: Seeking the Peace of Christ: Christianity and Peacemaking.
is essential to Christianity. There can be no doubt about it. Consider,
for example, these passages from the New Testament Gospels
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14, KVJ)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. (John 14:27)
Then there are these verses from the writings of the Apostle Paul:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:1)
For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)
not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace
of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7).
Of course then there’s the classic statement of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matt 5:9)
So peace is essential to Christianity, and Christians must surely seek to be peacemakers. Right?
it’s not that simple . . . or, at least, we Christians have complicated
what was meant to be simple. When it comes to the matter of
Christianity, peace, and peacemaking, we encounter several perplexing
problems. Three stand out in particular.
conservative American Christians (like me) have tended to think of
Christ’s peace mainly if not exclusively in terms of personal peace
with God and the inner peace that follows from this divine
relationship. Now let me say at the outset of this series on Seeking the Peace of Christ
that I passionately believe that you and I can have personal peace with
God through Christ. I also believe that one result of this peace is
deep, inner tranquility and a sense of well-being, the of God “which
surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). I would never deny the wonder
of these dimensions of peace, and will not do so in this series. But I
would contend that the peace of God, as revealed in Scripture, includes
much more than we evangelicals sometimes think. It’s not that we are
wrong in what we believe about God’s peace, but that we believe far too
The second problem with peace is that we who speak
English tend to think of peace in negative terms, as the absence of war
or other kinds of conflict. When two sides in a war come together and
sign a treaty, then peace has been achieved. Or when a husband and wife
finishing fighting, we might say that have worked out peace in their
relationship. But this sense of peace falls short of the biblical
vision. As you’ll see in this series, the Bible speaks of peace as
something far broader and grander than merely the absence of conflict.
third problem when it comes to Christianity and peace is that the
language of peacemaking is often used among more theologically and/or
politically liberal Christians to describe a certain kind of political
stance in the world. Peacemaking is often aligned with full on
pacifism, or, at least, with a strongly pacifistic anti-military
stance. In my experience in a mainline denomination, so-called
peacemaking often goes hand in hand with vigorous, partisan criticism
of the United States. Now I’m not suggesting that this political
perspective is necessarily right or wrong. But it does confuse matters
if we want to understand the biblical notions of peace and peacemaking.
The way many Christians use this language may keep those who use it
from missing the biblical sense(s) of peace. Moreover, evangelical
Christians can associate peacemaking with liberal theology, while
politically conservative Christians can assume that one who talks about
peacemaking embraces a liberal political agenda. Bible-believing
Christians can almost forget that Jesus was the one who blessed the
peacemakers, and therefore we had better figure out what this means so
we can join them.
As we begin this series on Seeking the Peace of Christ,
my goal is uncomplicated. I want to grapple with the biblical
understanding of peace, so that we might experience the fullness of
God’s peace in Christ and be agents of peace – yes, peacemakers – in
the world. Tomorrow I’ll begin to lay out the biblical vision of peace
by starting at the beginning.