Today, I want to start with this question:
What if the Vine-grower wants to prune our attempts to keep the peace?
For some of you, I need not go any further. You are already well-aware of the ways you “keep the peace” and how destructive it is. If that’s you, feel free to stop here and ask God to prune this behavior. Ask God to give you a vision for healthy alternatives to peacekeeping so that you may be healthy and bear fruit.
Others of you might want more understanding before you surrender to the Divine pruning shears. You’re asking, “what exactly do he mean by ‘keep the peace’?”
Let me see if I can explain.
First, I’m referring to a interpersonal behavior that is not to be confused with international peacekeeping. The latter is a global endeavor, often led by the U.N., meant to establish conditions that lead to lasting peace in countries historically ravaged by armed conflict. I, on the other hand, am drawing our attention toward our anxious attempts to avoid interpersonal conflict. I’m referring to a peacekeeping that usually involves an unhappy compromise of our values for the sake of a tenuous ‘peace.’
On the surface, some might argue “What could be wrong with keeping the peace? Aren’t we called to be peacemakers? After all, Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’” (Matthew 5:9)
Yes, we are called to be peacemakers. For sure! … and yet, there is a big difference between being a peacemaker and being a peacekeeper, isn’t there?
A peacemaker moves against the forces of fallenness and brokenness in our world, seeking to provide shalom (peaceful wholeness) wherever it is lacking. A peacekeeper succumbs to the brokenness of this world, assuming that the only way to survive is to keep people happy.
A peacemaker engages conflict, knowing that it may be temporarily painful, but its resolution has the potential for tremendous beauty. A peacekeeper avoids conflict because a quick fix calms their anxiety.
A peacemaker proactively choses the value of peace in the midst of unnecessary conflict, anger, unrest, or violence. A peacekeeper reactively adjusts their behavior because they just don’t want to make anyone upset.
A peacemaker, when at their best, is deeply in touch with their belovedness and wants to see other experience the same. A peacekeeper operates out of fear and insecurity—always afraid that the relationship is at stake.
A peacemaker seeks to glorify God by facilitating the work of his Kingdom. A peacekeeper engages in people-pleasing behaviors because the disapproval of other people is too much to bear.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. When I’m talking about keeping the peace, I’m talking about an unhealthy, ungodly, anxiety-driven behavior. In the terms of Genesis 3, it’s a fig leaf. God’s intentions are so much greater, but in order to get that them, we first must allow that fig leaf to be pruned away.
TODAY’s REFLECTION: Ask the Holy Spirit to show you places where were you are keeping the peace. What is the cost? What is lost? How might the Vine-grower prune this unhealthy habit? What strength will you need in order to eliminate this behavior?