Peace-making is not optional for a Christian.
Hmmm...that's a strong statement, but is it true?
After weeks of laying the foundation of peace with God and peace with ourselves, our class is finally to the nuts and bolts of peace making from Peace Making Women. (I've had several of you ask about this study so here's a link to the materials. You can get the book and read it on its own. There's quite a bit of overlap with the DVDs.) I believe that the statement above is true, because loving relationships were foremost on Jesus' mind as He headed toward the cross.
John 17:20,23 says, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you....May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
If unity is important to Jesus, then it must be important to me. I love Him and want to follow Him closely, so all my issues, idols, selfishness and sin has to be dealt with and set aside to pursue unity.
The curriculum then describes three responses to conflict: escape, peacemaking and attack. I know which one I tend toward in general, do you? I may not ever confront you (my family members may be laughing right now--sorry!), but you might not ever see me again either. :)
It's hard to stay, hang in there, find humility and work things out. It's hard to choose peacemaking over avoidance or a knock-down-drag-out, but it's the mandate of God.
The authors describe several situations where people outside the church commented on the bad behavior of those in the church and how it had future solidified their distaste for "religion". It made my heart grieve to wonder how many times I've contributed to the hardening of someone's heart against Jesus.
I'm resolved, though, to seek God's character and power in developing reconciliation skills. I may be an old(ish) dog, but I'm determined to master this new trick!