In this third installment of the mixed tape series, Greg shares his experience in growing in a non-violent world view during conflict. As followers of Jesus, we are called on to mimic our Lord and be peacemakers. We learn that being a peacemaker is not just doing activities that promote a lack of conflict, but it’s about rather putting our trust and whole source of worth and significance in the one who is peace, Jesus.
In a world of perpetual conflict, we as followers of Christ are called to be peacemakers. There seems to be constant conflict around us, in our personal lives as well as locally, nationally, and globally. In Ephesians 2 Paul is teaching that in reality Christ has already torn down all the walls of hostility. He tore down everything that divides us as human. In 1st century Jerusalem the major dividing wall as between Jews and gentiles. Paul is saying that by means of the cross Christ has created a new reality, a reconciled humanity. From his perspective this is all past tense – it’s already been accomplished.
In God’s reality Jesus Christ is the only true hope for the world. Jesus didn’t just do peaceful things, He is actually peace itself. In reality Jesus is already the peace between all conflicting parties. The most anyone can do without Christ is bring about a temporary cessation of conflict. To have true peace with a deep sense of well-being and reconciliation Jesus must be involved. This is true for police, politicians, and anyone else promising to bring peace. They may be very well meaning and do some very good things, but without Christ there is no true shalom.
We learn that as a follower of Christ the way to access this peace is to surrender our lives wholeheartedly to the one who is peace. We experience peace to the degree we put our trust in Him. So when we experience conflict we’re to keep our eyes fixed on the Prince of Peace. People can ignore it or reject it, but in the end peace wins. In the end peace will reign with one new humanity reigning with Christ.
No matter what type of conflict we’re in, the goal is to mimic our Lord who brought peace in an incarnational way. We are to have the same mindset as Christ who didn’t cling to the advantages He had as God, but rather emptied Himself of everything except perfect love. There are several ways in which we can learn from His example. The first is to make sure our identity is anchored in Him. All of our worth and significance comes from what God thinks about us and has spoken over us by His actions on the cross. I don’t need to look good, I don’t need to be right – “My life is in Christ, and nothing else matters.” We shouldn’t wait for conflict to start practicing this discipline.
Secondly we are to remember that those we’re in conflict with have unsurpassable worth and Jesus died from them on the cross too. This is our first job as a kingdom person is to agree with Jesus that they were worth Him dying for. Communicating others’ worth is always more important than winning an argument.
Lastly, in order to be peacemakers, we need to listen and validate. It’s not agreeing with another’s position, but rather respecting another person’s right to have a different perspective. We can’t listen and validate if we’re constantly trying to be right and put together what we’re going to say next in the conflict. We need to stop the chatter in our brains and listen. Jesus didn’t agree with a lot of the behavior of the people he was around, but he validated them and understood how they could have got to where they were at based on their experiences. Then through His love He helped bring them out of that way of life. So also we are to imitate Christ in our interactions with others.
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