“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9 NLT)
Often this verse translates the phrase “those who work for peace” as the more concise “peacemakers.” While this term has its benefits, it can also be misunderstood to mean something that Jesus did not intend. In English, we tend to equate the idea of being a peacemaker with that of making peace, but they are not altogether the same thing.
To “make the peace” between two warring factions is to bring an end to hostilities, but to be a peacemaker is to work toward full and complete reconciliation. Making peace sometimes means calling on both sides to forget the past and start from a clean slate, but peacemaking should always involve correcting or addressing the injustices or wrongs that initiated the conflict. Someone whose goal is to make the peace is satisfied with an end to current hostilities, but a peacemaker is not content with quelling the current conflict if everyone involved isn’t also working to prevent future conflicts as well.
We are called to be people who work for peace, the shalom of God, the restoration of all things. This is not a task that is undertaken lightly, nor is it easy; but we don’t do this alone, nor can we. It is only through Jesus that it is even possible to make any sort of peace – within ourselves, with our neighbors, with creation, or with God. It is often a thankless task, but there are very few things more important in this life than following in the footsteps of Jesus and seeking to act as he would were he in our situation.