Rich Stearns, president of Christian relief organization World Vision had spent a memorable meal with Palestinian Christians and 30 American pastors and church leaders in a cave west of Bethlehem. After the half mile hike to reach his destination at the top of a hillside, he was greeted by a sign that read, “We refuse to be enemies.”
The West Bank section of land where this Christian gathering took place is a mere 100 acres. However, its Palestinian residents, the Nassars have turned their property into an touch point for demonstrating to evangelical American Christians how unfairly Palestinian Christians are being treated by Israelis.
The Nassars claim they have owned the land since 1916, and according to international law, the territory does not belong to Israel, but to the Nassar family. Currently, according to World Vision President Stearns, the parcel of land is surrounded by 50,000 Israeli settlers, “living on similar land confiscated from other Palestinian families.”
Christians have digested the idea that the majority of our contacts with other individuals should be peaceful and non-offensive. After all, Romans 12:18 reads,” If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (NASB).”
However, notice the important two words, “if possible.” In other words, it’s not always possible. In fact, Paul lays the responsibility upon every follower of Christ to “be at peace with all men” so far as “it depends on you.”
What is a true peacemaker?
Do what you can to establish peaceful relationships with people at work, individuals who attend church with you or persons you come into contact with in your everyday world of shopping, driving and working out at the gym.
Just today I sat next to a Korean War veteran at the Veterans Administration who was attempting to collect vacation pay from sixty years ago when he served in Korea. His greediness upset me and I told him that the government is not his mother and father. I was not too peaceful. I firmly told him that his reward as a Korean vet was the privilege of serving his country.
Was I a peacemaker? Better yet, is a peacemaker someone who never voices a contrary opinion?
Many pastors have misunderstood passages like Matthew 5:9 in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus pronounces a blessing on “the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” In contrast, Jesus says in Matthew 10:34 that He did not come to to “send peace on earth . . . but a sword.”
Why the apparent contradiction? On one hand, the gospel message describes how one can find peace with God by accepting Jesus as Redeemer and Lord. Actually, the one who shares the message of redemption through Christ is true peacemaker.
However, this peace-giving message is also a stumbling block to those who do not want to humble themselves and recognize their own sins. Families, according to Jesus, can be torn apart by His saving message of grace (Matthew 10:35-36).
Jesus’ message can be reconciling to some and divisive to others. Why? Because the gospel exposes the darkness of our own hearts. Rather than repent and accept the knowledge of the truth through the Son of God, people would rather gravitate towards darkness and animosity towards Jesus and His followers. (more…)
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