Our nation is experiencing more turmoil now than anytime I can remember since the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal but the last few weeks were especially disheartening, filled with acts of violence and hate crimes. Two people shot down in a grocery store simply because they were black. Letter bombs mailed to leaders in the Democratic Party. Eleven people murdered while worshiping in a Synagogue.

As these tragedies unfold, our nation respectfully pauses for a time of mourning but all too soon, the hate-filled rhetoric and acts of violence flare up again. We could blame our leadership for setting a poor example, but we continue to support them, so the answer and the blame must fall ultimately on us.

There are notable exceptions: In Pittsburgh, leaders of the Muslim community raised over $120,000 for the Tree of Life Synagogue and their families. “We just want to know what you need,” Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Pittsburgh Islamic center, said during a Sunday news conference. “If it’s people outside your next service protecting you, let us know. We’ll be there.”

The Muslim Community found a way to promote peace and healing. The Apostle Paul writes: Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. – Romans 14:19

Cheri Fuller and Jennifer Dean wrote: God promises that those who make peace will be blessed: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9) But to make peace, a person must be at peace. A person who is filled with turmoil will inject that into relationships and situations. A person who is filled with peace will diffuse peace into relationships and situations. To be a peacemaker, you have to be peaceful.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” But to be a peacemaker you must be at peace.

Cheri and Jennifer continue: In Matthew 5, Jesus blesses those who are peacemakers in his Kingdom. In Kingdom peacemaking the disciple takes the initiative. The disciples lays aside pride, risks rejection or ridicule. In other words, peacemaking is not passive. For example, if a person with the authority to do so ordered you to go carry his load one mile, then going with them one mile would avoid conflict. But that is not the same as peace. Don’t be satisfied with keeping things on an even keel. Go further.

If you want to be a peacemaker:
• Work at being filled with peace yourself.
• Lay aside your pride and risk rejection and ridicule.
• Peacemaking is active not passive. You must take the initiative.
• Peacemaking goes beyond doing what is required to going above and beyond the necessary.

To be a peacemaker I must first be at peace. Then, as a leader, I should be willing to take initiative, set aside my pride, reject the possible risks and ignore the potential ridicule. We must be willing to do more than expected, if we want to truly be peacemakers.

Peace always sounded like a weak or wimpy word; like caving in or giving up. But peacemaking as used in Scripture is an aggressive action word challenging us to be proactive in addressing the controversial issues of life such as racism, sexism, poverty and violence. As peacemakers we have the opportunity to mediate conflicts and model respect in the midst of hatred and bigotry.

Cheri and Jennifer continue: Peace comes from the inside and spreads to those around you. Make peace. Create it. Bring peace out of chaos and disorder. Be like your Father. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Mat. 5:9) People who observe them can’t help but notice the likeness.

Make peace. Create peace. Bring peace out of chaos and disorder. Blessed are the peacemakers.

If you truly want to make a difference in the world, strive to be a peacemaker. As peacemakers, we can offer a different kind of leadership. Churches can and should be a sanctuary where people who act and think differently feel safe to discuss, explore and even change. We must learn to trust in God to provide guidance within complex and often painful issues. God is the ultimate peacemaker.

Peace and tranquility, confession and forgiveness, comfort and grace, sanctuary, spiritual guidance: words I would love to hear describing our leaders, our citizens, our communities and our nation.

Meghan McCain is one of the hosts on “The View” is not shy about expressing her conservative views. But the events of the last few weeks had an impact not so much on her political ideology as in the way she expresses herself. From the Washington Post:

“Looks like Meghan McCain is taking someone’s advice about being the change you want to see in the world. The co-host of “The View” on Thursday vowed to ratchet down her own rhetoric as she critiques the president for sowing divisiveness with his insults. McCain, a Republican, recalled that she had said on-air that she “hates” Hillary Clinton and referred to the former Democratic presidential nominee as Crooked Hillary. “It is one of the things I regret doing,” McCain said. “’Hate’ is not a word that should be coming out of my mouth on television about someone of a different political persuasion.”

Hate is not a word that should be coming out of our mouths. We could all learn from her confession regardless of our politics. What if all of us dedicated ourselves to being peacemakers? What a difference that could make in our communities and in our world.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. — Romans 14:19

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” — Francis of Assisi