There’s a final consideration about Christian peacemaking that we must bear in mind: it’s active, not passive. It’s Peace-MAKING, not Peace-HOPING.
You’ve heard of the “golden rule” – where Jesus said, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Back in Jesus’ time, another version of that proverb was floating around: “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.” Do you see how Jesus took the original proverb and transformed it from a passive idea into one that is highly active? Under the old way of thinking, as long as you didn’t hurt anyone, you were pleasing God. But this isn’t going far enough. In Jesus’ eyes, we’re to not just avoid the bad, but pursue the good.
Pastor Albert Tate leads Fellowship Monrovia, a thriving multi-ethnic church beneath the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles. According to Pastor Albert, it’s not enough for a follower of Christ to say, “Oh, I’m not a racist.” Even if that were true, the goal is not just to cleanse your own heart of racial hatred. That’s just one stop on the journey of holiness, not the destination. The gospel has not completed its healing work in us until we become anti-racist – which occurs when we begin developing a heart for other people, listen to their stories, and appreciate their journey, so much so that we will begin to stand with them and work to push back at the evil in society that is pushing on them.
If you’re in a standing quarrel with someone, it’s not enough to passively say, “Well, I’m here with my arms open wide. All they need to do is come to me.” To be a peacemaker means that you will go to them. You will initiate. You will reach out. Just as Christ did with us. “We love because he first loved us,” John said (1 John 4:19). If Christ hadn’t taken the initiative with us, we would still be wandering and lost.
It’s been said, “The first to apologize is the bravest; the first to forgive is the strongest; the first to forget is the happiest.” Our broken world will never be healed until those who bear the name of Christ model these virtues, and take the lead in the making of peace.