"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
Making peace is really hard. I am not a peaceful person. I like to pick fights, especially theological ones. When I believe something, I defend it voraciously and oftentimes, I have a hard time seeing past disagreements. I forget that the person with whom I am arguing is also an image-bearer of God and therefore worthy of my honor and respect. They may be wrong, but it isn't necessarily my place to tell them so. There is a VERY fine line to be drawn between standing up for the truth and keeping the peace. Probably 9.5 times out of 10, keeping the peace is more important.
I've been reading Jim Forrest's exceptional book, The Ladder of the Beatitudes, and his most lengthy chapter is on making peace. He quotes Presvytera Denise Jillions at length and I think her words are so appropriate here:
"To be a peacemaker, however tiny or great the issue and the stakes- I have in mind one of my sons being willing to let the other pour his orange juice first rather than fight over it- is always heroic, is always reminiscent of the cross and the sacrifice of Christ and his courage to appear weak. He could have called legions of angels to rescue him and fight at the moment, but instead he chose to ask the Father's forgiveness for his enemies. Being a peacemaker is hardly popular with people who are sparring to win, it really takes all the 'fun' out of it and can be denigrated as 'wimpy' or foolish. Also, being a peacemaker is different than being an 'appeaser,' not making waves, not standing up for truth. Just as the idea of 'keeping the peace' in a dysfunctional way be confused with being a peacemaker. On the other hand, choosing to deny oneself and avoid a conflict originating in willfulness and selfishness is also peacemaking, or rather, 'war prevention.' Its a hornet's nest."
~Ladder of the Beatitutdes, pg. 126, 127
Jim Forrest continues:
Sometimes Christ's peace seems especially absent among his followers. We don't simply disagree with one another on many topics, but we often despise those who hold what we regard as false or heretical views. Disagreement may be necessary- the defense of truth is a virtue- but hatred is a grave sin. Most often it isn't truth we battle for but opinion, vindication of our irritation with someone else, or just the desire to have things our own way.
May God have mercy on me! I've been guilty of this kind of "hatred" more times then I can count- even tonight! I don't want to be like that. I WANT to pray for my enemies. I WANT to love them and live at peace with them. Heck, most of my "enemies" are not enemies at all! They are just people who have made choices I don't agree with. But still, I am called to live in peace with them.
"Christ says we must love our enemies and pray for them. The two go together. You will never love anyone you don't pray for. Prayer opens a channel inside us to participate in God's love for the other person."
Far from loving our opponents, as Christ commands us to do, it often happens that we don't even respect them or try to understand them or consider that it may not be they who are wrong. Even if they happen to be dead wrong, there may be ways in which our attitude or response keeps them from changing their mind or way of life.
Our own failure to love is a major part of the problem.
~pg. 127 - 128
Does being a peacemaker mean being a pushover? In some cases, it probably does. I'm still learning how to be in this world. I'll probably spend the rest of my life trying to master the art of being a peacemaker and figuring out what that means in my day-to-day struggles. But it is so worth it... "for they shall be called children of God."