Three reminders for peacemakers

In violence and conflict, peacemakers take the way of escape

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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” Jesus says in Matthew 5:9. Why is being a peacemaker so important?

Peacemakers are not just those who have been taught to avoid conflicts but are those who step between warring parties to initiate reconciliation. They are committed to moving forward.

Being a peacemaker shows we are part of God’s family, a family with shared values and priorities.

Peacemaking means we are willing to do what it takes to improve relationships, not just stop conflicts. We can destroy barriers that are in our control.

Peacemakers move wisely to keep building truth for the good in all areas.

Peacemaking takes time, effort, prayer and the right attitude and spirit. It’s about being deliberate and building consistently, resulting in trustworthiness.

Here are three reminders for peacemakers.

1. We are pilgrims passing through. This is not our home. I Peter 2:11 reminds us we are pilgrims: “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (NKJV).

Our country is heavenly, and we cannot let ourselves get entangled here on earth. We are not to waste our skills on earthly desires and neglect our salvation. Fleshly lusts will always try to draw us away because of our fallen nature.

Keeping our focus on what truly matters, we are to be examples and a model others can follow. We are to be God-seekers and God-pleasers. Because we are engaged in a spiritual battle, conflicts will arise and attacks will be inflicted in order to bring ruin and captivity. As strangers and pilgrims, the only conflict we must endure should be that of the lusts that war against our souls and not the conflict of those that surround us inside and outside of our churches.

2. Peacemakers operate from their set of values and beliefs. “Mark the perfect man and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace,” (Psalm 37:37). Psalm 37 describes a person who is perfect in soul because he or she has been saved from their sins and now has God’s love and image. This person is upright in conduct, and at the end of their time, they will be at peace, quiet and assured forever.

Conflict happens, whether in the church or workplace, with a neighbor or family member. As members of God’s family, we are to pray and find a diplomatic solution to a problem.

The Psalm 37 individual is a peacemaker, constantly building, working and trying to solve problems, putting out fires. He or she is a great helper, most likely the best volunteer on the team because whenever this individual is involved the team is winning, moving forward and succeeding.

Pastors of congregations highly value this type of individual and desire to have them as part of their team. These individuals operate out of conviction, integrity, honor and experience. They are principle oriented.

Peacemakers are morally pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and patient. They bear good fruit and are willing to go the extra mile.

Peacemakers work at developing these skills:

• Conflict resolution

• Creative problem solving

• Effective communication

• Negotiation

• Persuasion

• Strategic thinking

• Leading change

• De-escalating

3. Peacemakers always take the way of escape. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind, and God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (I Corinthians 10:13).

God provides the way of escape so we can endure whatever temptation to pursue conflict, argument or confrontation that comes our way. We need to look for the way out (escape) from that temptation. Remember, God is faithful. This means God gives us sufficient strength to resist. This is a promise; he will provide the way out of that problem.

Conflict happens, whether in the church or workplace, with a neighbor or family member. As members of God’s family, we are to pray and find a diplomatic solution to a problem. As a pastor, many times I had to clothe myself with humility (Colossians 3:12-14) to diffuse potential problems.

As a concealed carry holder and firearms instructor who is well trained and knowledgeable in the profession, I’ve had my share of situations where defending myself would have been justified, the law favoring my cause of defense, but I sought the opportunity of escape.

One night one of the brothers in my church and I were driving to an office building. To provide for ministry, our church had contracted to clean this building. Shortly after getting on the highway, we encountered between 80 and 100 individuals riding four-wheel and three-wheel motor bikes as well as small jeeps. In just a matter of seconds, they took over the highway, stopping and blocking all traffic.

I could have opted to use force, but conviction told me to flee, which became my way of escape. Peacemakers always have a choice, and one choice is to honor God.

I knew instantly that trouble surrounded us. These people were openly carrying weapons of all types—firearms, baseball bats and hammers—and had loud music playing. I told the brother riding with me to start praying as I carefully navigated from the middle lane to the shoulder lane to try to get away. The troublemakers were hitting cars, assaulting people and robbing them. My opportunity became a choice. I could have opted to use force, but conviction told me to flee, which became my way of escape. Peacemakers always have a choice, and one choice is to honor God.

On another occasion, my wife and I were in our backyard late one afternoon. I was showing her the budding herb and vegetable garden I had planted earlier that spring. Suddenly, two men drove up in a truck and were walking up the driveway. They tried to open our fence, but it was locked from the inside.

When I asked what they wanted, they said they were here to repair my roof and windows. They also said they had been at our house the day before. Walking toward them, I commanded them to stop, telling them they were mistaken and had the wrong house.

As I got closer to them, I could smell liquor. It was apparent that they had been drinking. One had a long bar in his hand and the other held a hammer. When my wife asked me if she should call 911, I instructed her not to—yet. They continued to try to open the fence, even after I gave them warnings not to.

As I more sternly warned them to stop, the men said they needed to talk to us inside the house. I began to back away, keeping my eyes closely fixed on them as my wife now called 911. When I couldn’t back away anymore because my vehicle was behind me, I lifted my shirt and drew my conceal carry firearm. I didn’t point it at them but held it close to my side. This was the last warning.

The two men were about 20 feet from me, and because of my training, I knew they could reach me in less than two seconds given the distance. I was inwardly praying the whole time. Then one of them said, “Hey stop. He has a gun.” Immediately, they jumped in their vehicle and left the scene. The police arrived after they left. This was the right choice—my way of escape. My wife and I did not become victims, nor did I make the men victims.

We hear or see some form of violence or conflict every place we turn. We know of people, even family members, who have become victims of an act of violence. But I want to remind us that we live by another set of rules. As Christians and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should take the higher road whenever we can. Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

Robert Mendoza is a pastor with Victory Outreach. He and his wife, Genevieve, attend New Life Community, a USMB church in Dinuba, Calif. Mendoza is a conceal-carry and church safety instructor.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for providing Robert’s perspective. I’ve come to appreciate his place in our body and his devotion to peacemaking as a follower of Jesus. We may not be facing violence for our faith in America as many of our ancestors did in their past (or as Christians are today in other countries), but we are living our faith in a culture of violence. Robert’s training and experience with guns have made him an even stronger advocate for peacemaking, which I find refreshingly countercultural. It’s the same with anyone who lives with Jesus at the center.

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