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Pursuing Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

-Matthew 5:9

“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

-Romans 14:19

We are bombarded with news of war and violence in our world. The war between Ukraine and Russia has been going on for 2 years now. It's been about 5 months since the brutal conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israel began in its current iteration. There is also conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Yemen the conflict has lessened over the last year, but is not over. In the US we continue to experience gun violence in communities large and small. The political division and conflict here is also on the increase and will likely continue throughout this election year. 

The need for peace between countries, between groups of people, and between individuals is glaring and the task of peacemaking is no small order. So where do we start? The command from God to be peacemakers is explicitly and implicitly throughout scripture. Guiding tools and teachings for peacemaking are also found in scripture, particularly in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. 

In Matthew 5 Jesus gives the command about not retaliating or seeking revenge, he says instead to turn the other cheek, give your coat and your cloak, and to walk the extra mile. In other words when others interact towards us in violence we are to respond with nonviolence, with an example of how God wants the world to be. In other words, love. Love is exactly what Jesus follows his command about not seeking retaliation with when he commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. The command to love enemies is a difficult one. It asks us to care about the wellbeing of those who would harm us and have ill will towards us. I believe the only way we can learn to practice enemy love is one person, one moment, at a time. If we immediately try to think how this applies to multinational wars we’ll likely be at a loss. If you start with the neighbor who keeps blowing their leaves in your yard, the coworker who seems to be sabotaging all your hard work, or the person who gets combative with you when you disagree on politics then enemy love starts to seem possible. 

Peacemaking has to start with our hearts and our hands, it has to start with individuals. We may not always get it right, but as long as we humbly keep pursuing peace we are on the right path. 

If you are interested in larger peacemaking efforts here are a couple groups to get connected with.

-Presbyterian Peace Fellowship:

Until the day when the vision of Isaiah is made real. 

“He shall judge between the nations, 

and shall arbitrate for many peoples; 

they shall beat their swords into plowshares, 

and their spears into pruning hooks; 

nation shall not lift up sword against nation, 

neither shall they learn war any more.” -Isaiah 2:4

-Pastor Brian

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