Peacekeeping vs. Peacemaking
You may have grown up believing that keeping the peace is important, no matter the cost to you. This is a common attitude in the church, but it’s not what the Bible teaches. We need to study the Bible, including Jesus’ example, to understand what our responsibility is regarding preserving peace.
One of Jesus’ names is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He promises in John 14:27 to give us peace that lasts, unlike any peace that the world can give. A life with God results in lasting peace.
However, Jesus knew that his mission on earth would not always create peace. He constantly confronted his adversaries, which made them hate him all the more. He drove out the money changers in the temple with a whip (Matt. 21:12). He also stated in Matt. 10:34-36 that his coming would cause division, even within families.
But what is the root of Jesus’ actions and words? He came to promote perfect peace, whether people accepted him or not. His Father had assigned him to a mission, knowing it would involve hatred, violence, and even death. Yet Jesus was victorious over these challenges because the dark powers of evil could not defeat the Prince of Peace.
As a follower of Jesus, you are called to promote peace, but that will sometimes result in conflict. Peace is not the absence of conflict, which may be different from what you have learned. Instead, it’s an active pursuit of restoring God’s kingdom here on earth, and you will face opposition at times. With God’s help, you can learn to promote peace.
Problems of a Peacekeeper
Peacekeepers are often afraid of conflict. Their fear of conflict can lead to many ongoing problems, including the following:
- People-pleasing tendencies
- Being treated like a doormat
- Lack of confidence or self-worth
- Anxiety or depression
You may be working overtime to keep the peace in your family, workplace, or church, yet seeing few results for all your efforts. Your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health can suffer if you strive to be a peacekeeper. But when you get help from a caring Christian counselor, you can learn peacemaking skills that will empower and strengthen you.
Characteristics of a Peacemaker
A peacemaker is not afraid of conflict, though he or she does not seek it out, either. Peacemaking people stay calm and self-controlled during conflicts, and they help others arrive at an agreeable solution. Here are other characteristics of a peacemaker:
- Reasonable and level-headed
- Shows grace to others
- Listens well and shares wisdom
- Bears the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
- Promotes unity and reconciliation
Peacemakers not only bring peace into their personal conflicts but can serve as mediators for people in other conflicts. They trust God to give them the guidance they need to act wisely in difficult situations. Every one of us can become a peacemaker with guidance from God, practice, and compassionate help from a Christian counselor.
How You Can Be a Peacekeeper
The Bible gives us lots of practical advice about how you can make peace in your relationships. Let’s take a look at several scriptures that show different angles of peacemaking.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3
You must fill your mind with the truth of God’s Word to be a peacemaker. In moments of anxiety, conflict, or trials, this is a good verse to keep you on track. You can have God’s peace in the middle of conflict when you fully trust God and keep your thoughts fixed on him. Memorize this verse to keep God’s peace with you.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Col. 3:15
As Christians, we are called to promote peace among one another, especially in the church. The peace of Christ will rule in our hearts the more we spend time with God in prayer, Bible study, and worship. Daily gratitude also gives our hearts peace, so we can share it with others.
Deceit is in the hearts for those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. – Prov. 12:20
When we are peacemakers, we may come up against people who are bent on promoting evil. They use deceit and other sins to stir up contention and quarrels. However, you can have joy when you promote peace among people like that. Your conscience will be clean because you’re doing the right thing, and you’ll be a light that shines in the darkness for God’s glory (Matt. 5:16).
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. – Eph. 2:14
Remember as a peacemaker that you aren’t called to generate peace by yourself. Jesus is your source of peace, and you can rely on him to give you peace to share. He longs for groups to be unified and lay aside their hostilities. He will use you as a peacemaker to bring people together and help them see things from a new perspective.
If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Rom. 12:18
This is an essential verse to remember on your peacemaking journey. Peace is not always possible, because it takes two people to reconcile. But God only holds you accountable for your side. You are expected to be the one who promotes peace, no matter the situation. Another excellent model for this is in Matt. 18:15-17. If you carefully follow that model, and the other doesn’t respond well, you can have peace knowing you’ve done all you can do.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. – James 3:18
This is an encouraging verse for the days when peacemaking feels difficult (and it will). You are only responsible for sowing seeds of peace. God is responsible for working the harvest in you.
Someday, you’ll be able to look back and enjoy the rewards of righteousness, knowing that you worked to promote peace even in difficult situations. God will bless you for your peacemaking efforts, no matter how the other party responds to you.
To strengthen your journey of peacemaking, write out these verses so you can meditate on them regularly. God’s Word will comfort and encourage you as you work to promote peace with others. You can meditate on these verses before conflicts to strengthen your faith and boost your confidence in the Lord.
When You Need Help with Peacemaking
Peacemaking can be a long, challenging process. It requires patience, diligence, insight, and strength. This is difficult to do all on your own. Often, peacemakers benefit from the wisdom of others as they apply God’s principles in their specific situations.
If you are just starting out on a peacemaking journey, it may be helpful to consult with a Christian counselor. Your counselor will offer an objective viewpoint on your situation. You will learn how to strengthen any weaknesses you may have, as well as other approaches for speaking the truth in love during conflicts. Role-playing with your counselor will help you prepare for future conflicts.
Still not sure whether you are a peacekeeper or peacemaker? A compassionate Christian counselor will shine a light on your blind spots when it comes to peacekeeping and help you learn new approaches to conflict. Give us a call today. We can help you overcome people-pleasing and codependency to become the peacekeeper God created you to be.
“Tall Grass”, Courtesy of Joseph Barrientos, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Open Bible”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Heart”, Courtesy of Jamez Picard, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Flowers of the Field”, Courtesy of Kien Do, Unsplash.com, CC0 License