Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
We had reached an impasse. My corporate team had analyzed performance trends and was revising our insurance pricing structure in one of our states, a joint effort we pursued in conjunction with the office managers responsible for daily operations in this region. Opposing opinions led to fomenting frustrations, and though I knew we would reach an agreement, I reported our stalled status to my manager, who offered this helpful piece of advice. “When negotiating, don’t approach the matter as though across the table from an adversary, but from the same side of the table as though confronting shoulder-to-shoulder a common enemy.” We were, after all, teammates facing the same outside competition and sharing the same internal goals.
Self-interest blinds us to the greater good; we are “lured and enticed by [our] own desire”1 and lose sight of God’s will and ways. How beautiful, instead, when we peer beyond our worldly skirmishes and behold our sovereign God actually pursuing his kingdom purposes through us, undeterred by our pettiness. Joseph’s identity now revealed to his brothers who had badly mistreated him, he sought not divisive retribution, but the shared understanding of a higher plan. “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance,”2 he said. Joseph realized that, in His sovereignty, God had turned sibling infighting toward their own good and His own glory, for in Egypt this entire family found not only immediate relief from devastating famine, but also an incubator of sorts in which they and their offspring would grow into a great nation under the protection of a world power. Israel would emerge from Egypt 400 years later as foretold, “a community of peoples”3 to possess the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And through this lineage the Son of God would enter into human history to save people from all nations and reconcile us to God.
God is glorified in unity. Though we were “alienated from God and … enemies in [our] minds because of [our] evil behavior,” God has “reconciled [us] by Christ’s physical body through death to present [us] holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”4 This is God’s desire for us; it was Jesus’s prayer for us: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.”5 We go, then, as one reconciled people—“Christ’s ambassadors”6—carrying this living, breathing message: “that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them… Be reconciled to God.”7
Father, as in Christ you have united us to yourself and each other, send us as ambassadors with the proclamation of forgiveness, reconciliation, life and love in His name. Amen.
1 James 1:14 ESV
2 Genesis 45:7 NIV
3 Genesis 48:4 NIV
4 Colossians 1:21, 22 NIV
5 John 17:22, 23 NIV
6 2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV
7 2 Corinthians 5:19, 20 NIV