“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:10 NIV)
Several months ago, I exited my car in a grocery store parking lot when a man approached me aggressively, put a gun to my chest, and screamed at me to give him my money. My mind started to race, and my hands began to shake as I realized the gravity of the situation I found myself in. I was holding my cell phone and a credit card in my hand, but in the moment’s chaos, I couldn’t remember where my wallet was. I can still hear the desperation of my own voice rattling in my ears as I attempted to initiate my own hostage negotiation, as well as the escalating voice of the man trying to rob me. I remember the feeling of the gun pressing harder into my skin as I scrambled to give him anything that would satisfy his demands, and the dread when I heard a second angry voice, realizing he wasn’t acting alone. Then, in a moment of clarity, I remembered my backpack was in the trunk of my car and felt adrenaline-fueled relief when I heard the two men running away with it across the parking lot.
That one-minute interaction on a random, chilly October evening has disrupted my peace in ways I’m still trying to find words for.
We all have a story of how this world has betrayed our sense of peace. Middle-of-the-night phone calls that end with us on our knees. The sickening silence when new life enters the world and cries don’t fill the hospital room as expected. Sickness and loss and bearing witness to whatever human atrocities are fed to us by the 24-hour news networks. Being human is traumatic, and our spiritual formation on peace is constantly being unformed by how we’re tossed around with such brutality.
During his time on earth, Jesus was well acquainted with the hardships of humanity because he spent all his time in close proximity to people. And upon hearing that Jesus was offering healing from ailments that plagued them, the crowds gathered closer. Jesus was almost always near those searching for relief from unfair circumstances. The Prince of Peace had come to save the world, but for now he looked like and dressed like them. Peace was accessible, healing men even from death and walking through their neighborhoods. So, as he preached about peacemakers during the Sermon on the Mount, he wasn’t just stating a fact but extending an invitation to join him in the family business of peacemaking.
Being a peacemaker in this world feels like a lofty endeavor, doesn’t it? But mostly it requires an everyday faithfulness to “whatever is right.”
Peacemaking in a world of chaos recognizes that we’re only experts in our own experiences and leans into the experiences of others with compassionate curiosity rather than sinful judgment.
It forgives even when it has every right to grasp tightly onto pain and hurt.
It goes first; it reaches out to make things right and does the internal work to own up to our role in the conflict.
It investigates the engine behind words and actions that may injure others and attempts to address those actions honestly.
It’s true that none of us can fix this broken world, just like it’s true that none of us can cure cancer. But we can still bring a meal and offer our support and care to the sick, and we can still work toward peace and reconciliation in a world that so desperately needs some.
One day Jesus will set all things right. But until then—“blessed are the peacemakers.” Blessed are the ones willing to be courageous, compassionate, and persistent in their efforts to promote understanding and harmony in the world. By doing so, we are working toward a more peaceful and just world, clothed as God’s children.
—Written by Sarah Sciarini, Director of Communications for First Baptist Church in Lodi, California, and NorCal NAB. She is also a part of EYELET, working to elevate the voices of younger leaders in the NAB.