Blessed Are the Peacemakers
"Kamala is beloved. Donald was 'fearfully and wonderfully' created. Mike is cherished. Joe was important enough for Christ to die for him." - Bucky Rogers
If you are a follower of Jesus and any of the above statements made you uncomfortable, you might need to check your heart to see where its allegiance truly lies.
We live in divisive times. I don't think many would disagree with me on this matter, but some still might solely for the sake of disagreement. People are angry, and, in many respects, they have a right to be angry. This is something we love debating as citizens of the United States of America: what exactly are our unalienable human rights & what are the limits of those rights? Who is right and who is wrong?
As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I know my rights. John began his gospel, his historical account of the good news surrounding the life and teachings of Jesus, by stating, "Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12 NIV). I am a child of God because I believe in the name of Jesus and I believe in His teachings. Recently, God reminded me yet again of one of those specific teachings, too, while I was on board what I had initially thought to be a pirate ship. It wasn't until I read the name on the side of the ship, however, that I realized I had been sadly mistaken: "PEACEMAKER" is apparently not a common name for a pirate ship.
While pirates are not too often referred to as peacemakers, Jesus made it clear that His followers should be exactly that. Jesus began His longest teaching documented in the gospel of Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount, with what we have come to know as "the Beatitudes," in which He clearly states, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9 NIV). As a child of God, I am called to be a peacemaker. It is how the world will know Who I truly represent. While the world wages war, the Kingdom of God wages peace. This is what followers of Jesus are called to do each and every day, even (especially) in the midst of a charged political environment.
Followers of Jesus represent a different Kingdom entirely than the kingdoms of this world; a Kingdom where peace is our creed and love is our platform. If you meet someone who says they represent Jesus yet their actions do not show love or peace, they are lying to you and to themselves. Sure, people mess up (see my last blog post), but it is important that we do not drag down the name of Jesus or the Kingdom of God with us when we fall—that was our mess up; not the Kingdom of God's. We cannot allow our own pride, hate, anger, apathy, or even ignorance to keep the people around us from experiencing the love of Jesus. While the kingdoms of this world rise and fall, the Kingdom of God lasts forever.
So, what does all of this mean for those of us who have citizenship in the Kingdom of God and in the United States of America at this current moment? How should I vote on November 3rd? Who really is right and who is wrong?
Think of your vote on November 3rd as a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book in which you have two choices. Both of the choices will lead to some positive outcomes and a lot of negative outcomes because, again, this is a fallen world and you cannot expect a kingdom of this world to act like the Kingdom of God. What we can expect as followers of Jesus: things are going to get bad before they get good. We know this to be true. Jesus made that clear. What your vote on November 3rd will shape is what that bad is going to look like and who it is going to affect on this side of eternity (which will heavily affect the other side of eternity too; mostly who will be there). Please think about that when you go to cast your vote.
When it comes to the question of who is right and who is wrong, there is no right answer. We are all just a bunch of broken people, trying to make a broken world less broken, and, surprise, if history has taught us anything, we never do. Only Jesus can do that. What we can do, however, is stop demonizing our neighbors just because they have different worldviews than us. That is worldly thinking, my friends. That is the thinking of someone who belongs to a kingdom of this world—not the worldview of someone who belongs to the Kingdom of God, where there is no racism, no borders, no prejudice, no money, no taxes, no debt, no death, no mourning, no pain, and no grief. We need to start looking at the bigger picture in the light of eternity; there is still so much hope for what is to come, but that hope will not be found in the outcome of Election Day for anyone.
We must remember that the Kingdom of God is a Kingdom made up of "every nation, tribe, people, and language" (Revelation 7:9 NIV). As John Piper states in his most recent blog post concerning the election, we need to prepare our hearts for a day "when America is a footnote in the archives of the new creation." None of us know what the future holds, but, as a follower of Jesus, I know Who holds my future, and I am not afraid. Whatever may come, whether it be tyranny, anarchy, the complete collapse of America, the loss of religious freedom, fines, financial ruin, prison, exile, or even martyrdom, I hope to have the same faith as my brothers and sisters of the Early Church who "suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property, because they knew that they themselves had better and lasting possessions" (Hebrews 10:34 NIV).
For citizens of the Kingdom of God, true citizens of the Kingdom of God, November 3rd is not going to shake us. I cannot say the same, however, for many of our neighbors whose citizenship rest solely in the hands of the United States of America or in another kingdom of this world. As I already stated at the beginning of this post, people are angry; but they are also scared. The opposite of peace is conflict and chaos, and that is exactly where we find ourselves at this moment in time. As followers of Jesus, as children of God, it is time to be what we are called to be: peacemakers. Yes, this means waging peace across political lines, but, more specifically, it also means working to wage peace in the hearts & minds of the people around us who are hurting and scared.
As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we must act as citizens of another Kingdom. It is how the world will know we are truly different. Remember, elections and political ties are things of this world. The people who are elected on Election Day will never be perfect; fully aligning oneself with any of them means aligning oneself with death. Only Jesus is perfect, and we cannot allow ourselves as followers of Jesus to expunge the beautiful aroma of Christ that is in us with the stink that is the world. People can smell it from a mile away, and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. No matter who you vote for, that person still might be exactly the thing that is keeping someone around you from experiencing the love of Jesus. Go and talk to the people in your community who have different worldviews than you in the wake of Election Day, and tell them that you love them. Sit with them, listen to them, and cry with them if they need it. That matters far more than anything else.
As you sit with them, they might start to look at you in a different light too. They might even ask why you care at all, "Aren't you a Christian? I always thought Christians represented this political party or didn't care about people like me?" And you can smile, take their hand, and tell them how you don't actually represent a political party, that you don't even represent a specific country, how you are a part of a different Kingdom entirely, a Kingdom built on love and led by Love, a Kingdom where anything you've ever done can be forgiven and anyone and everyone is welcome no matter who you are or where you are from in the world.
It is in moments like that when people come to meet Jesus for the first time; moments when prisoners see true faith as fellow prisoners sing through the night, moments when a person who has been told their whole life that they are unlovable finally hears that they are loved, and moments when someone who is constantly told "go home" and "you're not welcome here" finally hears the words "Welcome home."
Everything changes in those moments—where before they might have seen an enemy, a villain, a pirate meant to steal their joy, they will now see a peacemaker. And you will be reminded in those moments how blessed you are to be exactly that, how blessed we all are to be children of God. Go out and wage peace, my friends.
With Hope and Peace,
James Davisson is just a small man with a big heart, serving a much bigger God.