Peacemaking, the Gospel and Churches

From Steve Norman:

I don’t know a single local church pastor who doesn’t believe in peacemaking. After all, the angels celebrating Jesus’s birth come right out and sing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). Jesus himself champions the role of peacemaker in his Sermon on the Mount and, let’s be honest, nobody’s going to challenge Jesus’s direct words there.

And yet, there is a clear gap between U.S. church leaders’ stated support of biblical peacemaking and our actual pursuit of peacemaking in our ministry initiatives. I recently conducted a research project that collected data from 15 pastors in personal interviews and 297 pastors through an online survey. Their feedback on this issue was almost unanimous: “Yes, I affirm the theory of peacemaking as a biblical value. No, it’s not something our church is currently doing. Honestly, we’d have no idea where to start if we wanted to.”

When asked, “How important are concepts like peacemaking and reconciliation in mission?” one pastor responded, “I guess I’d say theologically and philosophically, Jesus calls us to be peacemakers, so that’s certainly part of the gospel …[However] I’m extremely pragmatic, like to a fault.”…

Therein lies the rub. Pastors get stuck believing peacemaking is an elective; in truth, it is the very heartbeat of the gospel. Jesus’s declaration of kingdom invites us to experience, receive, and promote peace with God, with our enemies, among our broken families, and between warring tribes and nations.

Peacemaking, then, is not simply an avenue for sharing the gospel; peacemaking truly is the core of the gospel message.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Peacekeeping has to do with more than war, which is perhaps what many think of most. It has to do with peace at all levels. I believe the primary message of the good news is peace.
    It is peace between individuals and the Father as the Father eliminates the alienation we feel between us and him. Our task is to let people know that the Father provides reconciliation.
    It is peace within ourselves as we respond to the love of the Father and begin to love ourselves as we ought.
    It is peace between us and others that comes as we begin to love others (including enemies) as ourselves.
    But the church is often consumed with attitudes that are opposite to peace. We fight over doctrines instead of engaging in dialog. We judge each other in our personal practices–always looking for that mote in the other’s eye. And we identify our enemies and attempt to defeat them in terms that I cannot distinguish from hate: evolutionists, Muslims, gays, other races and cultures, other religions, our political opponents.
    Our only task is to share the love and peace of the Father–not to conquer our ‘enemies’.

  • gingoro

    Sadly to say conservative Protestants are not even much given to peace and cooperation between churches in other denominations. Sure our distinctives are important but almost all of them are secondary matters or even less important than that.
    DaveW

  • Lynn Betts

    Thank you for posting this! He is right…on all counts! And it needs to be a required part of every seminary curriculum. What will be the biggest challenge (and frustration) of every pastor? Conflict among the flock. Yet few make it required training (how many even know how?). When I was faced with a can of worms at a church, the material from Peacemaker Ministries was crucial to getting us all set on the right gospel/disciple track. Conflicts truly are opportunities to see the core of the Good News lived out. Yet so many still face conflicts with a worldly approach: force of personality, political maneuvering, hidden agendas. It opened my heart and mind to a reality I had never imagined.

  • Brian J Henry

    Hey Scot, would you mind not truncating your RSS feed? I really enjoy your posts, but it’s hard to read on a kindle when I have to click through and visit the patheos website, and the popup ads mess up my feed reader when it’s trying to load the website, and it’s just an overall hassall.


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