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.