What does the word ‘peace’ mean to you? In the Middle East it’s a customary greeting, whether in the Arabic or Hebrew language, ‘May peace be upon you’. It sounds like a prayer for blessing. ‘Hello’ or ‘good morning’ doesn’t seem half so significant. The Hebrew word ‘shalom’ has a richness of meaning and means everything that is good, health, prosperity, relaxation, laughter, good relationships, justice, harmony, fairness and righteousness. When we are at war we lose everything we enjoy, all beauty, creativity of the arts and music, sport, games, and we are overtaken by evil, suffering, pain and death. Jesus wants us to bring peace to others.
So how do we do it? I suppose it starts with valuing relationships. Every Sunday in the Communion service at church we have the little ceremony of greeting one another with the words ‘Peace be with you’. It’s just a smile and a friendly handshake or an embrace, but I find these gestures are important in making relationships work. They bring a sense of acceptance and belonging and community. When I lived in Tokyo and was surrounded by American friends I learned to ‘extend myself’ somewhat. British reserve often means people keep very much to themselves and are afraid of invading anyone else’s space. But the price we pay is often loneliness.
What do we do about conflict? It’s unavoidable so we might as well make up our minds what to do when it comes. Jesus wants us to restore relationships if possible. We need to pick our battles carefully. Some things are so trivial that they aren’t worth making a fuss about. We can forbear and refrain from comment and forgive. Other things need confronting or things will definitely go from bad to worse. Yet confronting can be done respectfully and kindly but with firmness. It takes a lot of effort but we will save everybody from future stress if we can successfully diffuse situations of conflict, pouring oil on troubled waters.
The blessing for peacemakers is that they shall be called the ‘sons of God’. This means we are full heirs to the riches of our Father, knowing security in relationship with Him and having all authority which is rightfully ours.
Prayer: Please help me, Father, to value peacemaking in Your Kingdom and to do it for Your sake. I want to inherit all that You have for me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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