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Archive for the ‘Peacemaking’ Category

Mosque Burning

I was really sad when I read that a mosque in Joplin, Missouri was burned down on Monday. It is likely that it was arson since someone had already tried to set it on fire July 4th (only minimal damage was done then). This, along with the even worse tragedy in Wisconsin at the Sikh temple, shows what a messed up world we live in. And it shows that religious extremism and violence against people from other religions is not simply a problem “over there” (wherever that is). It is a problem in America, among those who call themselves Christians.

Many people like to point out how intolerant Muslims are. And yes, there is intolerance among some Muslims. But are we not like the person Jesus spoke of who tries to take the speck out of his brother’s eye even though there is a log in his own (Matthew 7:1-5)? Even among those who would never dream of doing something like burning down a mosque or injuring a person of another faith, we like to think of the world in terms of us versus them.

I’m glad there is a Christian in Joplin who recognizes God’s call to love others as we love ourselves. Ashly Carter, a Christian college student, is planning an event on Saturday to promote “acts of love.” I like it. I think some Christians won’t. Why? Because they will be suspicious that Ashly is promoting an “all religions are the same so let’s love each other” kind of event. I don’t believe all religions are the same. I don’t believe all religions lead us to God (in fact, I don’t believe any religion leads us to God – I bet that will get some people going!). But even if she does believe this (I have no idea what she believes), I still rejoice that people come together in love rather than stay separated in fear and suspicion or even hatred.

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Peacemaking for Redemption

From Peacemaker Ministries blog:

Biblical peacemaking should never be understood as a better way for you to win arguments where you’re “right”. It shouldn’t even be understood as a more likely way to get to the truth. One or both of those things may happen, but neither gets to the heart of why we engage in biblical peacemaking. Biblical peacemaking is at its core a recognition that even in the midst of an argument where we have a lot to lose and where our opponent may be entrenched in sin, the most important thing we can do is to bring glory to God through our conduct. It is an act of faith that out of this peacemaking witness, God can do things far beyond upholding the truth or vindicating us, though he will also do both these things eventually. The “thing far beyond” that peacemaking makes possible is redemption–especially of those trapped in sin.

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Richard Nixon: Peacemaker

Richard Nixon was the 37th President of the United States. If you know anything about him, you know that he was the first and only president to resign from office. His legacy has forever been scarred by the Watergate break-in and the subsequent cover up.

Most people (even Americans), however, don’t know much about the remarkable foreign policy breakthroughs that he accomplished during his time in office. This included ending the Vietnam War, opening relations with China (he was the first president to visit China), and negotiating the first nuclear arms treaty with the Soviet Union.

In 2009 my family visited Disneyland in Southern California. Afterwards we were traveling to Hemet, CA to visit friends. I love presidential history, so when I mapped it out and saw that we would go through Yorba Linda and be a couple of miles from Richard Nixon’s birthplace and Library I convinced my wife we had to stop.

It was great seeing all the memorabilia from his life and teaching my daughter, Lucy, about Nixon and other presidents. We got to go in Marine One, which is the helicopter he left the White House in on the day he resigned. But the thing that stood out most to me was his tombstone. Here is a picture:

“The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker”

The phrase on his tombstone is a line from his first inaugural address. Whether we think of Richard Nixon as a peacemaker or not, it is interesting to me that being a peacemaker must have been very significant for him since he had it placed on his tombstone. It is how he wanted to be remembered.

I’m not working in the arena of foreign affairs between governments, but it is how I hope I will be remembered.

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What Is a Peacemaker?

Here is a definition of a peacemaker that I wrote as a guest post for Desiring God’s blog:

Our master, Jesus the Messiah, said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Christians are called to be peacemakers. So how are we doing? Is this what we are known for? Does this describe you?

Imagine you were to tell your family that you wanted to be a peacemaker. Would they first think of the church or the UN? “Peacemaker” ought to be synonymous with Christian, especially in light of the frequent New Testament commands to be at peace with others (i. e. Romans 12:1814:192 Corinthians 13:11). Do we realize that not only does Paul give a blessing of grace at the beginning of each of his letters, but he also always includes peace?

But what is a peacemaker? Here is an intentionally peace-filled definition that I hope helps reawaken us to the prominence of peace in the Bible:

A peacemaker is someone who experiences the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) because he is at peace (Romans 5:1) with the God of peace (Philippians 4:9) through the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6), who, indeed, is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and who therefore seeks to live at peace with all others (Romans 12:18) and proclaims the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) so that others might have joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13).

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If you’re not familiar with Peacemakers Ministry, you should be. Ken Sande’s book,The Peacemaker, is the best introduction to the topic of biblical peacemaking available. It is a must read for every pastor, church member and Christian.
They recently hosted a conference on the topic of “Forgiveness,” featuring keynote speakers Josh Harris, Thabiti Anyabwile, Ken Sande, and Chris Brauns (author ofUnpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds).

 

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In a post from Visual Peacemakers encouraging photographers visiting other cultures to “wear their shoes” there were some great points for anyone visiting another culture. These six suggestions will go a long way in helping someone gain a better understanding of people different than them, which is a prerequisite for peacemaking.

1. Leave some comforts at home: eat local, use local soap products, maybe wear some local garb.

2. Adhere to their customs and lifestyle: this could possibly mean taking your shoes off, waving at people a certain way, covering your head in a mosque, or opening a door for a stranger. Take local transport, or visit non-touristy markets and neigborhoods.

3. Don’t stay in the most touristy area: there is a tourist box waiting for you to fit into, counteract this by getting off the beaten path.

4. Use their language: get a phrase book and practice with cab drivers, waiters, hotel lobbyists, and others you encounter. It will communicate that you value them and can result in invites to experience the culture backstage, beyond the tourist routes.

5. Sit and observe local life: there is huge value in just pausing to people-watch for a while, feel the rhythm and join in. Is it sit-on-your-porch-slow, or NewYorker-style speed-walking?

6. Withhold judgement: in other cultures we all find some things to be a bit peculiar… trust me, they do it “that way” for a reason. They’re intelligent and have histories that have shaped the present. It doesn’t mean a little change wouldn’t be good. Change in the world is often good. But withhold your judgement for awhile, and don’t come to conclusions until you talk with several locals and experience multiple portals of information. You just might learn something, too.

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