Mark D. Roberts

As I’ve shown in my recent posts, our peacemaking task begins right in front of us, in our closest relationships at home, at work, at school, and at church. But it doesn’t stop there. As God’s peacemakers, we must take the message and substance of peace into the whole world. I am discussing the global dimension of peacemaking after the ecclesial and familial, not because the global is less important, but because we can hardly commend the peace of Christ to the world if our primary relationships are fractured and contentious.

How can we bring God’s peace to the world? First of all, we do so by announcing the peacemaking work of Christ on the cross. Telling the good news about Jesus is essential to any Christian peacemaking effort. This good news invites others to renounce their sin and to be reconciled to God. Thus it opens the door so that they might begin to live in God’s peace and to join the ranks of divine peacemakers.

I am not suggesting that every single time Christians seek to make peace we must go through the basics of the Gospel. Surely we must be sensitive to the people whom we are seeking to help and to the context of the conversation. But, I must confess that I am concerned about the tendency, especially in some mainline denominational peacemaking efforts, to minimize or neglect the good news of Christ. We seem to think that we can make peace among people without mentioning the One who alone is the source of true peace. This, it seems to me, misses the essence of truly Christian peacemaking. (Photo: A cross in the Chapel of the Transfiguration, at Grand Teton National Park.)

teton-cross-5.jpgSecond, we bring God’s peace to the world by holding up the cross of Christ as an example to emulated. Though the world might scoff at Christ’s paradigm of self-sacrifice, it shows us all how to live.

Of course if we speak of Christ’s sacrifice, we must also exemplify it in our own behavior. Scripture teaches us to do this in one of the most significant and challenging passages in the New Testament:

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
        as something to be exploited,
    but emptied himself,
        taking the form of a slave,
        being born in human likeness.
    And being found in human form,
        he humbled himself
        and became obedient to the point of death–
        even death on a cross.
       Therefore God also highly exalted him
        and gave him the name
        that is above every name,
    so that at the name of Jesus
        every knee should bend,
        in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue should confess
        that Jesus Christ is Lord,
        to the glory of God the Father.
                       Philippians 2:1-11

Notice that Christ’s emptying of himself serves as a paradigm for our own behavior. It teaches and calls us to be people of love and humility, people who care deeply about the interests of others. Thus, we who profess the cross of Christ must live cross-shaped lives if we seek to extend the peace of Christ into the world.

Tomorrow I’ll have more to say about how we make peace in the world.

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