Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Peacekeeper or Peacemaker

A peacekeeper is one who will keep quiet when he sees a brother going astray because he fears a scene if he were to speak to the brother of his straying from the Lord. A peacemaker is one who goes, with love in his heart, to a brother going astray to restore him back to the Lord even if a scene is created. Why do I say this?

Conflict makers attack and destroy people and relationships. At the other extreme, there are people who dislike and avoid conflict. They even deny the presence of any conflict. They prefer appeasement because they believe it will make the conflict go away. In 1938, Neville Chamberlain (see above picture) was the British Prime Minister. At that time, Nazi Germany had become very powerful under Hitler. He moved to annex parts of German-speaking Czechoslovakia. Although Britain was allied to the Czech Republic, Chamberlain met with Hitler and agreed to the demand that the German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia be yielded to Nazi Germany. Britain and France practically arm-twisted Czechoslovakia into surrendering their sovereignty to Nazi Germany so that war would be avoided. So after the signing the agreement, Chamberlain returned to Britain and proudly declared, “There will be peace in our time.” Peace? Ironically, just a year later, Nazi Germany attacked Poland and Hungary. This drew Britain and France into a war they had wanted to avoid. This led to World War 2 which ended with millions of people dead. You cannot appease a bully; you have to stand up to him. But there are people who are appeasers but imagine themselves to be peace-keepers. Peace-keepers avoid the problem and deny there is one. They will probably apply Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” ti its most extreme situation to avoid any kind of conflict. Now I agree there are times we have to keep our mouth shut for the sake of peace. But I disagree with having to keep our mouths shut in ALL situations. Wisdom is definitely needed. Peace-keepers want to avoid unpleasant situations arising. They may quote Matt 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” So they don’t judge out of the fear of having to deal with unpleasant situations. But they forget later down in Matt 7:6, Jesus says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” The application of this verse shows that we need to apply judgment and discernment in certain situations?

We should never resort to appeasement and denial out of fear of conflict. We should remember that sometimes we should go and make peace, even if an unpleasant situation arises, so that we will bring glory to God. If a married church deacon comes to church regularly with another woman and not his wife, can we say it’s Ok, that’s a private matter? If one’s teenage daughter dresses inappropriately and keeps very late nights, is it OK for the parent to say “she knows what she’s doing so I will leave her alone.”

If we see someone’s actions threatening to ruin their own lives or the good witness of Christ, can we claim its ok to keep quiet because we are keeping the peace? Definitely not! If a young child has the habit of using his fists on his mother, should not the parent need to discipline that child? Many people handling young children are typical peace keepers. The child throws a tantrum and they immediately rush to appease the child. They will carry him if he wants to so that he does not scream and refuses to move. They will avoid a scene so if the child refuses to eat his food, they will eat the leftovers. Even ordering food becomes a contentious issue. The child soon learns to be a bully. Just throw a tantrum and you will get what you want. I once say a mother handle a child’s tantrum. Coming out of the train, the child refused to move. The mother tried to pull him along but he began screaming and just laid there deadweight, beating the floor and kicking the air. The mother just moved ahead and the boy started screaming louder even “mommy, mommy.” The mother stopped and told him to come. He refused and kept throwing his tantrums. It was quite a fascinating battle of wills. Then the mother turned around and said, “Fine! You stay there”. And she walked further on near where I was sitting. And then she stopped and turned around again and just stared at her child. Immediately, the child got up and ran towards his mother, crying “mommy, mommy.” The mother’s first words were “what you did was bad and I will punish you when we get home.” Was she a peace-keeper? No, her actions did not keep the peace. It created tension and conflict. Actually, I was quite tempted to applaud her actions and affirm what she did. She was not a peace-keeper but I believe she was a peace-maker. Her action served to restore a rightful relationship between her child and herself. She knew that giving in to her child and avoiding a scene will not build the child’s character. That’s what a peace-maker looks like.

For us, peacemaking simply means doing whatever good we can in the contexts God has placed us. God may use us to restore broken relationships in our office or schools. A single mother may be struggling to raise her children. Are we too busy to encourage her or even to help her in some practical ways? Someone is struggling with his or her studies. Are we too busy chasing A’s that you cannot give someone a helping hand? That’s what a peacemaker does. Sees a problem, names it and goes about to resolve it.

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