In The Bahamas, we have seen our fair share of acrimony and contention. Violence is a constant in the news among young men; there is domestic violence, political posturing and bantering leading to an unfavorable and unpeaceful atmosphere. During times like these many people are caught up in getting even or proving a point.
To counter the march to pervasive negativity we must remember the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. It is during times like these that we must remember the value of the peacemaker. A peacemaker is one who intervenes in tense situations and encourages others to desist from anger or malice and find a way to coexist with those they disagree with.
At times in our lives we have all been called upon to be peacemakers. When the times come, will you answer the call? Another scripture reminds us that we should seek peace and pursue it. Peace can be elusive at times so we have to seek it out and pursue it. At times it may not feel like the desired option so we have to remind ourselves of the value of peace and actively pursue it. I Peter 3:10-12 states, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Sometimes people will make you angry, people will hurt you by their wrong actions. Sometimes you have a right to be upset and a right to be angry. In spite of how you feel, Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers. And the Bible admonishes us to seek peace and pursue it. Even people who are close to you, people who you trust will betray you – and you have two options – be angry and retaliate or try to get even or be a peacemaker.
Sometimes, you are not the one who is aggrieved, but it may be a friend and instead of encouraging peaceful resolution you encourage your friend to get even. Be a peacemaker and not a fire-starter. In the end, you will be rewarded. You have that assurance from God himself.
If you are in the “valley” of decision and not sure what to do, remember the words, “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the sons of God.” God appreciates the peacemaker. Peace produces better results. Just think about it, what happens when peacemakers do not intervene? The result is usually not good. There was a time in my life when I was not a peacemaker. I helped to start wars or continue wars. With time and perspective and because of my relationship with God I was able to turn my life around, and from that point I have seen and lived the benefits of being a peacemaker. My peacemaking activities have sometimes been good and sometimes I have made mistakes, but the balance sheet slants in the way of benefit.
I have mediated violent encounters with gang members, family disputes, disputes among friends and in the process lives were preserved and communities spared of terror. Of course, you have to know when it makes sense to intervene and when it is unfruitful. You never want to step into a situation where people are armed or where your efforts will put you in danger. There are some situations that I mediated or intervened in that if I had to do it over again, I would not do it because it exposed me to unnecessary danger. At one time, I recall convincing young men and gang members to put down knives in the middle of a dispute and although it was resolved successfully, sometimes you have to be aware of your own need for safety.
There are many other more pleasant events that were less dangerous that I was able to resolve. Sometimes it involved misinformation or wrong assumptions, but through the grace of God things worked out favorably. I have also been the beneficiary of peacemaking and I am thankful for the peacemakers who have made my life easier. Remember the admonition of Jesus and be a peacemaker always.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.