blessings for healing, brotherhood

I have officially bitten off more than I can chew.

Peacemaker should have been easy for me. I hate conflict.

But I’ve been fooled by a cheap sort of peace-making. Contented with a peace that seems right, but merely pacifies. Hiding turmoil to maintain a semblance of harmony.

There are a million times when not taking into account a wrong suffered is absolutely, undeniably right.

Sometimes, I keep my mouth shut because so many are indiscriminately opening theirs to spout out what they think. Wounding without noticing over things like eating meat. Perhaps my silence balances out the noisy, ridiculous, divisive universe in a small way . . .

But real peace-making does not simply pacify. It does not put away quietly. It does not smooth things over.

Real peace-making wounds and binds up. Speaks truth that is painful but right. And in the end brings real peace — Shalom to men, women and children who are broken.

Because the Hebrew word Shalom means wholeness, completeness, healing , not merely the absence of strife.*

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are few.

* * * * *

In the darkness of early morning I read about a time I am too young, and too western, to really know.

A time when our culture ignored terrible, abusive evil. When men defended white supremacy from the pulpit and advocated dehumanizing Jim Crow laws.

But a preacher started preaching that these things ought not to be, and led the way down an agonizing road toward racial harmony — toward real peace. Years of beatings followed, not just for him, but for anyone who dared to speak out against the status quo.

He was never going to change the hearts of the racists. But he got our nation to open its eyes to the evil we had been tolerating by silence. Cultures don’t just change over night.

. . . Not once in his career did an official of Selma or Jackson or Albany or Cicero respond to his entreaties by saying, “You know, Dr. King, you’re right. We are racists, and these discriminatory laws are unjust, unconstitutional, unbiblical, and just plain wrong.  We’re sorry. We’ll repent and start over.” Not once. It took more than King’s prophetic words to cut through the moral calluses of bigots like me.  — Philip Yancey, Soul Survivor

It’s been nearly 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. exposed the ugly underbelly of America. Didn’t we settle this? Can’t we move on? This is what pacifiers say.

But the reality is you can’t just say, We changed the law! And expect it all to be fixed. It takes more than a generation to heal hundreds of years of oppression.

Peacemakers know superficial harmony is not the goal. That there cannot be real peace without healing, and healing people and communities takes time. Real peacemakers are in it for the long haul.

* * * * *

I’ve noticed a thing about people. We lose interest quickly. Something that grips our hearts one day, drops off our radar the next . . .

Sex trafficking is a hot button right now in America. Suddenly, fighting this injustice is in vogue, when the evil has existed for practically all of time.

But maybe, like the Church of 1960’s, we have to be shocked into noticing.

I sat in a room last week with other marketing professionals, while the CEO of an amazing organization shared an astonishing plight.

The problem is that this organization is fulfilling the whole message of peace. They are not merely rescuing, but mostly restoring. Not just child prostitutes, but the severely neglected. They help bring healing to deep wounds and build new lives — a process that takes years, lifetimes. Generations.

And years doesn’t fit the current fad.

Do we really just want to jump on a bandwagon, talk about how evil something is, throw a little money and attention at it, and say God bless you, be in peace?

Statistics say yes. Christians (in general) will support rescue. But not recovery.

We love the results of peacemaking. But the process bores us. 

But abused and broken people need a compassionate and selfless peacemaker who will actually get in the pool where they are drowning and swim-drag them to shore.

True restoring-to-wholeness peace is not made in a manipulated forgiveness session, a little book of verses, or a statement of one-sided reconciliation. The wounds of abuse don’t just go away over night.

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 8:11

Peacemakers are in the fight, day after non-glorious day, passionate — and sometimes prickly — because they make us uncomfortable in our comfort. Weary, exhausted, but driven on by thirst for justice and backed by the God who sees and does not abandon forever. They are taking Shalom — healing and wholeness — to people broken, cast aside and forgotten.

This kind of peace-making isn’t for everyone. In fact, sometimes is just not appropriate to be there. Victims aren’t looking to be trophies on a mantle-piece (this is exploitation).

Awareness is good. Support is better. But make no mistake, victims of abuse aren’t actually healed by legions of people creating awareness or “standing with them.”

Blessed are those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9

* * * * *

I am guilty of settling for an insidious counterfeit of peace.

The brokenness in our home, caused by addiction was exacerbated by my false-peacemaking response to it. And not only mine. Other people who bought the deception of superficial peace.

Being a peacemaker does not mean playing nice together. It doesn’t mean conceding so as not to make a big scandal. It doesn’t mean blindly submitting to a leader whose advice is to keep quiet. It doesn’t mean sweeping up the mess made by an addict time and again and not letting them feel the weight of their sins.  There’s a word for this behavior . . . and it isn’t peacemaker.

Because real peace-making is a nasty business.

Peacemaking is not all sanitized photo-ops and signed documents and kisses on cheeks and shaking hands. Real peace-making is ugly, painful, costly. It involves exposing, cleaning, scourging.

Remember, this is Jesus who said blessed are the peacemakers . . .

Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Jesus, despised and rejected. Jesus, betrayed, beaten, spit on, mocked. Jesus, cursed by crowds as he walked streets where he was praised a week before.

Jesus, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree. (I Peter 2:24)

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Jesus, who reconciled man with God through His death on a bloody cross. Exposed, humiliated, broken for all the world to see.

He himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14) Our atonement. (I John 2:2)

Jesus, the ultimate peacemaker, who through His suffering made peace between God and man forever.

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. Ephesians 2:12-17

* * * * *

I sometimes wonder if a culture that has made a practice generation after generation of separating from anyone with whom we disagree can be a vessel of true peace.

How can a fractured and fragmented Church really bring wholeness and healing to the broken?

If the blessing for the peacemaker is to be called the children of God, and aren’t all believers children of God?  Doesn’t that mean we are all called to be peacemakers in some way?

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:3-6

And here is where I leave this very long post for now. In far over my head. Pondering deep theological issues and attempting to practice baby steps toward peace. God has put people in my life who have brought me so much peace. The real kind, healing, wholeness. It wasn’t anything fancy or dramatic. It was listening, loving, waiting, staying and I am sure a lot of praying.  And I know Dave would say the same thing.

What about you? Where are you being called to bring healing? (If you haven’t had enough, read Isaiah 58  and ask God to show you where to take His peace.)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. — St. Francis of Assisi

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