Being a disciple of Christ means following in the pattern of the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The meaning of the Hebrew for peace, “Shalom,” is much richer than just “not fighting.” It indicates safety, well-being, and wholeness. Shalom brings rest, reconciliation, and restoration. Shalom leaves no room for false peace, for quiet contempt, or for unspoken grievances. It is a truthful and honest peace.
Through Christ, we have entered into peace with God (Romans 5:1). The work of Christ has brought us the peace of righteousness and confidence before God (Isaiah 32:17, Hebrews 4:16). And while this has put an end to striving on behalf of ourselves, it also compels us to do the work of peacemakers. “But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
We are given directives to work for peace because it is not something that comes naturally to us. Sin is the great divider – putting us at odds with God and each other. Fights, dissentions, and divisions result from those who are living to serve the desires of the flesh (I Corinthians 3:3-4, Galatians 5:19-20).
But the fruit of the Spirit is peace (Galatians 5:22). When we are not at peace with another person, even a child, we need to first examine ourselves humbly before God (Matthew 7:45, Psalm 139:23-24). “If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). Are we protecting an idol, defending our pride, or lashing out in fear? Then, we need to repent. Repentance means turning away from a way of thinking that leads to sin and turning towards the way of God that leads to good. True repentance does not leave us sad or ashamed, but at peace and full of hope and gratitude “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).
Perhaps we have cleaned our side of the street, but there still isn’t peace. Being a peacemaker, especially when we are working with little people who haven’t developed reasoning and good decision-making skills yet, requires us to lean on God’s wisdom and not our own understanding (Proverbs 3:6). We should proceed “with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3). With the grace and forbearance of our Father in Heaven, we can speak the truth in love. We can gently confront the one who has sinned against us (Matthew 18:15).
Correcting with kindness, mercy, and gentleness can be a powerful motivator for change (2 Timothy 2:24-25). It tells our children that we value our relationship with them over their behavior. It gives them confidence that our love is not dependent on their being good. It encourages them to come to us when they do wrong, because they know we will respond with compassion, help, and prayer (Matthew 15:22, 17:15, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 23:34, Romans 8:34, James 5:16). Gentle confrontation allows true peace to prevail in the relationship, because it is the path to becoming “perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10).
When all else has failed, “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35). We can’t force others to do what’s right or to agree to peace, but when they act like an enemy, we can allow the lavish grace, unwavering gentleness, and incomprehensible peace of Christ to pour out from us by the power of the Holy Spirit. “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5-7).
Pointedly, Christ says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). As ambassadors of Christ, we are directed to pursue peace with everyone. “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness--without it no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, HCSB). “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11). “So then, let us follow after things which make for peace, and things by which we may build one another up” (Romans 14:19).