Peacemaking vs. Peacekeeping — the Startling Difference

I’ve always thought of myself as a peacekeeper. Don’t make waves, don’t rock the boat, try to keep everyone happy and steady. And I’ve been pretty satisfied with that version of myself over the years.

Until Sunday.

Honestly, having been to church since I was born, I don’t typically come across brand new concepts in church. I mean, there are definitely always new growth points for me, but it’s rare that something is an entirely new idea.

This past Sunday (at City Church for All Nations in Bloomington, Indiana: ) I was hit with this new (to me) idea:

We are called to be peaceMAKERS, not peaceKEEPERS.

To the untrained ear (like mine for the past 30+ years), they sound very much the same and are often used interchangeably. The only problem with this is they are not actually synonymous like I (and maybe some of you) previously thought.

You see, to KEEP the peace implies we’re careful about what we say and often careful not to speak up at all in the face of something we may disagree with. We wouldn’t want to make any waves after all. We wouldn’t want to do anything that might cause another person to feel strong emotions. That wouldn’t be peaceful, would it?

While we absolutely should be careful with our words and let wisdom be our guide, telling us when to speak up and when to keep our mouths shut, sometimes we need to make a few waves in order to ultimately MAKE peace.

It’s what the role of a peacemaker is all about:

Making, not just keeping, the peace.

Imagine being married for many years to a spouse that drives you crazy. (Some may have to try harder than others…haha.) Maybe it’s due to little things that add up, or maybe it’s big things we’re too afraid to address.

To keep the peace is simple, if not easy. Keep quiet, keep plugging away at life, all the while building resentment and bitterness toward our spouse on the inside.

To make the peace is not as simple. It may involve a not-so-peaceful period of arguments and hard work as we thoroughly address our issues in order to come out on the other side where true peace resides.

Sometimes we must upset the superficial peace in order to ultimately attain genuine, lasting peace.

Do you know how often the Bible talks about the importance of peacekeeping?

Zero. Zero times.

Our call from God is to make peace, not merely keep it.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”  Matthew 5:9

Are you up for the challenge of peacemaking? Personally, I’m still deciding.  Only kidding! Mostly… 🙂

Nobody said it would be easy. It will take courage. It will take initiative. It will take practice. But I believe in us. We can do it… with a little help.

I believe the Holy Spirit will guide and help us as we get up out of our comfy cozy comfort zones of peacekeeping in order to pursue peacemaking.

It won’t be easy, but how sweet to be called children of God. If that doesn’t motivate us, what will?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Had you ever considered the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping before?

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Thanks for reading!

4 thoughts on “Peacemaking vs. Peacekeeping — the Startling Difference

  1. This is a great distinction! Peacemaking is so difficult. I naturally want to take the path of least resistance. If I can accomplish my goals peacefully I will do what it takes including avoiding confrontation. The issue you raise is whether I’m then able to accomplish God’s goals. It might be that I’m uniquely called to address a situation and by avoiding confrontation I might have avoided temporary discomfort but at the expense of God’s pleasure. Thanks for the dose of conviction this morning!

  2. Thank you for the reminder. I have heard that distinction before, but it can be pretty hard. I’ve always been pretty much your first paragraph, too. In fact, my mother once told me she thought I was a doormat for my friends. I sure didn’t see it that way. I just thought I was putting others first as I should do. And often, I didn’t really have a preference for where to eat or what to do, for example, so if someone else did, I was happy to go along. But, I do need reminders to speak the truth rather than be silent. I just don’t want to make waves, even when I should. And confrontation is never pleasant, but sometimes needed.

    1. @Christt Thanks for sharing! And I totally get what you’re saying. I’ve always tried to avoid making waves, but sometimes that ends up making things worse when you hold things in for too long (speaking from experience, haha!). I think for us go-with-the-flow personalities, it takes extra effort to speak up, even when we know we need to. Prayers for you on your journey! 🙂

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