To be a peacemaker is to fight.
When multiple races, tribes or countries have conflict or war with each other, peace may seem unattainable. (Re)conciliation requires faithful, patient effort and continual hope. After all, people and groups disagree with each other and are often engrained in their opinions. One side has hurt the other in a significant way that needs to be repented from before any true change can be made. In return, that hurt side may be retaliating to this injustice. Even when two parties come to the table to reconcile, it’s not easy to rebuild trust.
The battle for peace is hard-won, but it’s worth the effort. It’s worth the energy. It’s worth the pain.
Here are some tips to bring two or more parties together for peace:
Don’t assume. Speak respectfully and demonstrate humility. Even if you disagree (and have history and statistics to prove why), when you show you care about one party’s opinion, they are more likely to engage in conversation with you. So, be respectful as you listen to another human or mediate between two parties. Given some time, this can lead to positive social change.
Change probably won’t be immediate, and you may be persecuted for your efforts – even by those you thought you agreed with, since you are trying to bring them into harmony with an opposing group that they think could harm them! Recognize the fear there and don’t take it personally; keep fighting.
The fight for peace may be mundane at times. It may seem hopeless. It may exhaust you, but remember why you are fighting. Look to the peace heroes who have fought the battle before you. Their examples offer great wisdom and inspiration as you press onward.
We are not fighting flesh and blood but are battling spiritual powers. These spiritual powers work through the corrupt societal structures we see, and we need to remember that prayer is effective. Yes, stand with the oppressed; in fact, God commands this. Yes, work in tangible ways for harmony and unity, shalom and reconciliation. But also pray.
Without God’s strength and his promise to make all things new, we have no hope or power to bring peace.
Gain encouragement by look at the small examples of success. Record and retell the inspiring testimonies demonstrating the fruit of your labor. Keep hope, my friends; keep hope.
As you labor for (re)conciliation, ask yourself why you are fighting for peace. How much are you willing to sacrifice for this battle?
It’s not easily won, but it’s worth the fight.