Hal Brady

Brady

Not long ago a woman said to a friend of hers something about the need of God if we were to have peace. Her friend replied, “What on earth has God got to do with peace?” It’s a good question, pretty far out, but after all that’s where many people are.

Who is the authentic maker of peace? The Apostle Paul stated it directly when he said, “For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” (l Corinthians 14:33). God then is the author, maker and the source of peace. Apart from God, there is no peace.

Truth is, we simply cannot keep the peace until we have peace ourselves and are willing to share it. Consequently, peace is the fruit of peacemaking. The climax of all the beatitudes is this one, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

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First, peacemaking has to do with having God’s peace ourselves! Peace is both a gift and a task, but it will never become our task until we have received it as a gift. Jesus said, “My peace I give you. I give it to you, not as the world gives” (John 24:27).

In one of the churches I served, I was locking up the narthex after a wedding. I noticed the guest registration book was turned back and I glanced at the names. At the bottom of the page, I saw these words: “Oh Father, it seems only fitting that I would get in on the last line. You have guided my footsteps to this place. May I forever put you there in my new life, and may I spread your light, so others may see.”

Second, peacemaking has to do with practicing self-restraint! A pertinent example of this occurred in Utah prior to the election.

It’s concerning the governor’s race and a video of the two candidates. Democrat Chris Peterson and Republican Spencer Cox appear side by side, though they are socially distanced. After introducing themselves, the two candidates explain why they should receive the people’s votes. Following that, the two candidates take turns making statements that are actually refreshing:

“We can debate issues without degrading each others character.”

“We can disagree without hating each other.

“Win or lose, in Utah we can work together.”

That’s peacemaking by self-restraint.

Third, peacemaking has to do with the doing of justice! As someone observed, “Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right.” As long as there is injustice and wrong relations between people, there will be no real peace in the world.

A minister shared that when he was in Haiti he was at a restaurant table ready to eat his meal. He said he looked to his left and there he saw three boys, naked almost. Dirty and filthy, with swelled bellies and hair turned rust-colored from malnutrition, the boys pressed their noses against the glass, staring at the minister’s food. The waiter, seeing the minister’s discomfort, moved in quickly, pulled down the shade and said to the minister, “Don’t let them bother you, enjoy your meal.”

The minister stated, “As if I could.”

“Nothing is settled until it’s settled right.” The peacemaker knows that.

Fourth, peacemaking has to do with answering God’s call and taking the risk! As people of faith, we are meant to be remedies in the midst of brokenness and hostility. And we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was addressing this when he spoke of his three rules for voting:

1) Vote without fee or reward for the person they judged the most worthy.

2) Speak no evil of the person they voted against.

3) Take care their spirits were not sharpened against those who voted on the other side.

But the question is, will we answer God’s call to be peacemakers and are we willing to take the risk?

If the deep discord and division in our society continues, it will not be because it is inevitable, but because not enough men and women have taken the risk to avert it. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus, “for they will be called children of God.”

The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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