James 3:18, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
I really want to be a peacemaker. But if I learned anything from my tiny bit of farming experience growing up, it’s that “sowing” can be hard work. James makes it sound so easy, so poetic. I find the actuality of peacemaking a bit more taxing. Harvest, even a harvest of righteousness, is hard work.
I really want to be a peacemaker. But I have to get on board with the long-haul view of this thing. Quoting the verse, memorizing the verse, and really liking the verse, just doesn’t get it done. Peacemaking is as much identity as it is action, like a farmer… farming is who a person is as much as what a person does. Sowing and reaping is an expression of the way of life chosen by a person, not just a days activities. I must be the sower and also the soil.
Did you notice the verse says “sow in peace” and not “sow peace.” Peace is not what we are necessarily sowing in life… peace is the way we sow all the things of the day. This is about our greetings, our lunch meetings, our arguments, our partings, our friendly waves, our stress-laden mornings and collapsing in bed at night. This is helping a friend with a question, a child with homework, and a parent carrying groceries. The peacemaker is not a “one-trick-pony” who just walks all day around bemoaning, “Can’t we all just get along?” The peacemaker looks like everyone else, but moves through life leaving a trail of righteousness, like the tail of comet sparkling in the night sky.
I really want to be a peacemaker.
I recently threw out a tweet that also went to my facebook expressing my shame at the actions of some Christians a few weeks back who felt it was somehow in the Spirit of Christ to go disturb their Muslim neighbors who had gathered at the National Mall for a day of prayer. While the people tried to pray, some stood to the side with bullhorns and tried to “evangelize” them, and then got in arguments with the DC police. Sheesh.
Really, that’s who we are supposed to be? The persecutors? We somehow have been granted the licence to rudeness? Really?
So, I went to my Sunni next-door neighbor and apologized, even though he wasn’t there that day. He was so great. He said something like, “We know all Christians aren’t like that.” He then looked over my shoulder to the view of my church building down the street, and he looked at the Presbyterian church across the street, and turned back and said something to the tune of, “My wife and I are so happy to have the churches here so close, we feel it is a sign of peace for us.” Sorry, it wasn’t a news interview so I have to do some paraphrasing.
I also spent some time trying to find an email for the fella who planned the whole prayer event at the Mall. I finally found one and sent him an apology, as a local Christian Pastor who was embarrassed by the angry, rude Christians. I wanted to share the reply I received yesterday, because I thought it was very gracious…
“Dear Reverend Thomas,
Thank you very much for your kind words and prayers. We did receive opposition from Christians but it didn’t prevent us from having a most wonderful prayer service on Capitol Hill. We prayed for the good of America, for all people of all races, religions, etc. Many of us who participated were born in America. We deeply care for and love America.
Take good care and may the peace of God (the one creator) be with you always.
Peace and blessings,
There’s no doubt that there are Muslims in the world who don’t love America. Heck, there are Christians in the world who don’t love America. And I’m not going to jump onto a bandwagon of condemnation for the Christians with bullhorns… as I recently heard the late, great Rich Mullins say in video, “I’m not saying they’re bad, they’re just wrong.” Scripture directs us to be the righteous ones, so that observers have no true basis to make derisive remakes about our behavior. Scripture also says that our anger does not accomplish the will of God. And common sense says that interrupting someone else’s prayer does nothing to help my prayer.
So, I’ll just close with sincere apologies to the artist of the icon with which I took certain liberties when trying to do something visually clever for this post. Sorry, my friend.