The Peacemakers

Did you ever notice it takes months of detailed planning and diligent building to erect a magnificent edifice, but only days or weeks to raze it to mere memories? Over seasons of integrity and years of faithfulness is our trust in another established; sudden is its betrayal, however, and we behold its ruins through blurry eyes of bitter tears. We hard-earn honor over lifetime of prudent decisions, only to damage our reputation with an unconstrained word or a me-first choice. So it is, also, with dissension and peace: “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”1 There are few ways as impactful to “making a difference” than to defuse conflict and foster peace in our small space in the world. Here, then, are some peacemaking observations from throughout the years. Feel free to add your own at the end of this post.

Listen. We often talk when the solution lies in listening. As Job in his agony implored of his friends, “Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say.”2

Look beneath symptoms. Too, we often stop at the symptom of conflict but neglect to dig to its roots. “What causes fights and quarrels among you?” queried James, “Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”3 We do well to stop an honest moment and think.

Stay on point. For a variety of reasons, it is very difficult for some people to accept or admit their own shortcomings, so they marginalize their offenses by pointing to the offenses of another. This gets us nowhere in terms of conflict resolution, so I’ve learned to remain focused by acknowledging impertinent issues, then setting them aside for later conversation.

Find shared values. I think people’s common ground is much larger than their battle ground. Most, for instance, value faithfulness, justice, goodness, honor and mercy. To the extent conflicting parties identify common ground, their differences become more clearly defined, seemingly smaller, and easier to address.

Move beyond detente. Personally, I think detente—the mere absence of conflict—is only slightly better than conflict itself. True resolution settles for nothing short of unity. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”4

Know when to stay clear. “Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own,” advised Solomon.5 I can’t quarrel with that.

Father, give me an honest heart to confess my sin and turn from it. Give me a discerning heart to know when to be—and when not to be—involved in conflict. Give me a wise heart to know how to help calm a quarrel. Give me a patient heart, because peace takes time. Amen.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Christ in me is peace.

1 Proverbs 15:18
2 Job 13:17
3 James 4:1
4 Psalm 133:1
5 Proverbs 26:17


When our son Matthew was in college, he and some friends decided to encourage another friend, Andrew, as he ran in the St. Louis Marathon. Each painted on his own exposed torso one letter of the runner’s name, so they could spell it out together and cheer him on as he raced by the half-way point. Marathons are lengthy, however, so they began to pass the time by seeing how many words they could spell with their animated alphabet. When Andrew ran by—grinding out the distance on his own—his would-be cheerleaders were completely distracted and unprepared. It was actually Andrew who got their attention as he sped by, “Hey, guys!” Peggy and I laughed as Matthew related the story, and we asked him, “What were you spelling when he ran by?” “Nothing!” he exclaimed. It was for these merry collegians a short course in attentiveness, if they let it be, and one gained at virtually no cost.

Life lessons aren’t always so mercifully learned. It was Jesus enduring the distance that dark night of Gethsemane, “very distressed and troubled … deeply grieved to the point of death”1 by the punishment and abandonment which lay immediately before Him. He’d schooled the disciples in the importance of watchfulness—remaining attentive over time—and now asked it of them as He implored the Father for mercy and strength. Yet every time He sought their support, Jesus found his friends asleep and Himself alone. His frustration might be tallied (but not fully measured) in exclamation marks: “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”2

“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy,”3 wrote a very sage Solomon. It is true, we can never truly experience the depths of another’s pain or the fullness of one’s gladness; only God can, and only God does. Yet it is inestimably vital that we be there amid cries for help, be they spoken or, more often, silent. “Sit here while I pray,” friends may say, or “Stay here and keep watch,” they fear to ask. Together, then, may our lives spell out, “WATCHFUL,” for the assurance of our presence makes both bitterness and joy a far less lonely place to be.

Father, it is so encouraging when others share my joy and pain, yet I tend to shortchange the value of my presence in their life. Send your Spirit; make me attentive to those who, like me, need someone to be there in the moment with them. In this also, be glorified. In Christ, I pray. Amen.

1 Mark 14:34, 35
2 Mark 14:41, 42
3 Proverbs 14:10

Human Tiles in the Divine Mosaic

I would have to say the mosaic icons in The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Columbus, Ohio, are more captivating and inspirational than any European cathedral artwork I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing. Here master mosaicist Bruno Salvatori arranged an estimated five million Venetian glass tiles of various colors, shapes and sizes into intricate patterns to depict the early-church apostles and some of their Old Testament forebears. His exquisite portraits dutifully adorn the walls and vaults of the Byzantine structure as thoughtful reminders of these ancients of the faith, yet they also illustrate something even more profound, the unsearchable beauty and creative genius that is the church—the body of Christ.

The apostle Paul explained that to each believer there are given different kinds of spiritual gifts, all of which are “the work of one and the same Spirit,” and that “he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”1 Every such gift is a “manifestation of the Spirit … given for the common good,”2 he mused. We are, in a way, like pieces of glass in countless combinations of dimension and hue. Some stand out as bold shards of brilliant red, those who preach or those who exhort us onward to our heavenly goal. Evangelists among us emanate life and hope with all the energy and optimism of sunlight yellow, while teachers of indigo blue dive deep in study, raising to the surface unalterable gospel truths and revealing them in graspable ways. Those who serve as accents or assume background positions are every bit as worthy of honor and appreciation—reliable earth tones representing the bedrock of faith and wisdom, and golden inlays, the hearts of the givers, perhaps the greatest of whom are the poor who sacrifice generous portions of limited means.

We are all precious tiles of inestimable worth in the hands of the true Master, and He has arranged “every one … just as he wanted [us] to be.”3 Yet this masterpiece, this body of Christ, is alive and with purpose, climbing down from our domes and commencing forth from our walls to serve others in grace and truth and in justice and mercy. Peter challenges us: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”4 Paul likewise exhorts, “Do not neglect your gift”5; we are instead to “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you … For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”6

It is a beautiful thing God has done in your life and in mine. Then this body He has made from all of us is utterly breathtaking, and what He accomplishes through us, life-giving.

Father, through Christ you bring us into your glory; be glorified in the praises—the living sacrifices—of your people today. In Jesus we live, and in His name we pray. Amen.

1 1 Corinthians 12:11
2 1 Corinthians 12:7
3 1 Corinthians 12:18
4 1 Peter 4:10
5 1 Timothy 4:14
6 2 Timothy 1:6, 7