Published 2:19 pm Thursday, August 13, 2015

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  — Romans 14:19

God promises that those who make peace will be blessed: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9) But to make peace, a person must be at peace. A person who is filled with turmoil will inject that into relationships and situations. A person who is filled with peace will diffuse peace into relationships and situations. To be a peacemaker, you have to be peaceful.  — “One Year Praying the Promises of God” by Cheri Fuller and Jennifer Kennedy Dean

This was my first devotional reading one morning while on vacation at Epworth by the Sea on Saint Simon’s Island in Georgia, the only part of America visited by John and Charles Wesley, founders of the United Methodist Church. Epworth has become a place of peaceful tranquility in the midst of a popular and crowded tourist area.

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I needed and craved peace and tranquility.

The devotion continues: In Matthew 5, Jesus blesses those who are peacemakers in His kingdom. In kingdom peacemaking the disciple takes the initiative. In other words, peacemaking is not passive. Don’t be satisfied with keeping things on an even keel. Go further.

To be a peacemaker I must first be at peace. Then, as a leader, I should be willing to take initiative. Peace always sounded like a weak or wimpy word — like caving in or giving up. But peacemaking as used in scripture is an aggressive action word challenging us to be proactive in addressing the controversial issues of life such as racism, sexism, poverty and violence. As peacemakers we have the opportunity to mediate conflicts and model respect in the midst of hatred and bigotry.

The devotion continues: Peace comes from the inside and spreads to those around you. Make peace. Create it. Bring peace out of chaos and disorder. But there is a cost to being a peacemaker.

The devotion ends: Peace can cost your pride. It can cost your reputation. It cost Jesus his life. But the promise is that peacemakers will live in a state of blessedness. (“One Year Praying the Promises of God”)

While resting at Epworth by the Sea, I learned to appreciate the value of peace. It is possible for me to be at peace in the midst of a storm. Our calling is to trust in God’s peace as a guide toward becoming peacemakers. The cost will be high but the reward is higher.

As peacemakers, we can lead our churches. Churches should be a sanctuary where people who act and think differently feel safe to discuss, explore and even change. A church is where God provides guidance in the midst of complex and often painful issues. A church is where God provides comfort and grace in the midst sin and strife.

Peace and tranquility, comfort and grace, sanctuary, spiritual guidance: God’s church.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”  — Francis of Assisi