The world has been watching as tensions grow between the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un. Whether we read the tweets of Trump or watch the updated bulletins of missile testing by Kim via news sites, we wonder with intrigue and concern how this show of power between these two leaders will end. World peace seems like a distant dream.
We may feel helpless as we read or watch the unfolding news on this situation and analyse what these two unpredictable leaders may do. But the stand off between these two world leaders can in fact give us reason to self-reflect on how we respond to relational conflicts in our own everyday lives.
Conflict – a difference in opinion or purpose that frustrates someone’s goals or desires
Ken Sande’s definition of conflict in The Peacemaker is, “a difference in opinion or purpose that frustrates someone’s goals or desires”. As simple as this definition is, it actually fits perfectly not only what we see played out everyday in our ordinary lives but also what we see played out on the world stage.
Whilst the impact on others as a result of the ongoing saga between Trump and Kim may seem “a world away” from the relational conflicts we face, the reality is our responses to conflict always affect us, those directly involved in the conflict and also many “innocent” others.
How do we respond to difficult people or situations which do not unfold the way we anticipate or expect? Do we leave difficult relationships or situations, muttering to ourselves that, “it’s not worth it”? Or alternatively, do we provoke others and attempt to subdue them by our words and actions?
Peace fakers, peace breakers or peacemakers?
Are we peace fakers – pretending things are fine when they are not or running from difficult people and situations? Are we peace breakers – attacking people with our words and behaviour when they cause us problems? Or do we seek to be peacemakers?
- Taking time to ask God how he can be honoured in the situation?
- Soberly considering how our own attitude and actions have inflamed the situation and seeking to make this right?
- Lovingly addressing the other person with truth and gentleness?
- And choosing to forgive them, because we want to redeem difficult and painful situations and rebuild broken relationships?
Why choose peacemaking?
The truth is that we can choose to be peacemakers in a broken world. We can choose to own our part in relational breakdown, by seeking forgiveness from those we have wronged. We can choose to forgive those who have wronged us. We can make these choices because a perfect and loving God chose to forgive us and make peace with us when we hurt him and wronged him.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)
God humbled himself and became a human being, limited in time and space for about 33 years, to live as Jesus Christ on earth; to die as a condemned yet perfect human being – all so he could be the peacemaker between God and humanity, fully repairing our broken relationship with God.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
God came and initiated the most costly reconciliation anyone could bear – by choosing to bear and pay for all our wrongs in himself, through a torturous and humiliating death on a cross. He did this while we were still doing wrong and hurting him and even though he never wronged anyone!
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
If we are so loved by God that he could do that for us, and if we are so forgiven and fully accepted by an all powerful, all knowing, ever-present God – is this not sufficient motivation and power to choose to be a peacemaker and take the initiative to seek to repair or restore or bring peace to our own earthly relationships?
Whether our conflicts impact international relations and threaten world peace, or are of the everyday variety and threaten family or community peace, we can choose to be peace fakers, peace breakers or peacemakers. Ultimate and lasting peacemaking on earth only comes from accepting peace from the ultimate and lasting Peacemaker, Jesus Christ.
Accepting the peace that comes from God through Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to make peace with others.
Thank God for Jesus Christ!
Resource tip: You can obtain a copy of the excellent book The Peacemaker by Ken Sande here.