More than thoughts and prayers

This past week our country experienced another national tragedy. I won’t recount the details and events, because we know this is not the first tragedy, and will also not be the last. As the impact reverberated through the nation, many people offered up “thoughts and prayers” as has happened before, but instead of the welcome it usually receives, the thoughts and prayers came up so empty. Many memes were created to tell people that it wasn’t enough.

As Jesus gave the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) he said among the beatitudes “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God.” Personally, this resonates on many levels. I want peace in my home, in my town, in my relationships, and certainly in my country. When people are yelling we often ask them to “calm down” or not get so angry. When a fight breaks out, we want it to be stopped. This is peacemaking, right?

Recently I read an article that made me reconsider whether as Christians we are actually pursuing real lasting peace or not. It argued that often what we mistake as peace MAKING actually resembles more of peace KEEPING. A peace maker is defined as “a person who brings about peace, especially by reconciling adversaries”. This term involves a conflict of some sort that needs to be brought to resolution. Yet as Christians often we just try to keep the peace, rather than actually get into the real business of entering the conflict and MAKING peace.

In peace keeping, things are already peaceful, and we just work to keep it that way. In peace making, there is a conflict that needs to be resolved in a manner that results in peace. The process of peace making involves getting to know the issue, not being afraid to enter the conflict, and working to disrupt the status quo to bring about a solution that doesn’t KEEP peace but MAKES peace.

Any honest look at the news should inform the Christian that there is conflict, and tragedy in the world. And in fact, this should not surprise us! “Nothing is new under the sun!” the author of Ecclesiastes says. Until Jesus returns sin will be a part of living on this Earth. OUR task, as Christians, is to enter into this conflict and tragedy with open eyes and awareness, not shrinking away in shock, or feigning support from afar, but offering tangible ways to help usher in the peace that Christ offers us. Maybe you can do this on a global scale, through legislation or involvement. Maybe you can take measures in your own community. Or maybe, it means being an advocate for peace in your own home. We each have a role to play as peace MAKERS. This is an action and a call, and while we continue to offer our prayers because we believe that God can and WILL intercede in miraculous ways, we can also take action to pursue peace in whatever context God has placed us in.