In these tumultuous days we need peacemakers. Wouldn’t you agree? Whether conflicts are nearby (in marriage, parenting, among neighbors, at school, on the job), or in distant nations (such as Afghanistan and Iraq), the clamor of hostility calls us to yearn for peace.
What is the root cause for arguments, conflicts, and war? While we tend to blame-shift by pointing to personalities or politics, there is a sinister root to the bad fruit of hostility. In the New Testament, James charged: “Where do wars and fights come from among you?” Then he gave the answer: “Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war” (James 4:1,2). Here we observe that the root cause of conflict is the flesh (Cf. Gal 5:16). This residue of the “old man” is sin-stained and sin-trained (Cf. Col. 3:9). It is characterized by selfishness, greed, and hate and manifests itself in aggressive behavior and conflicts. All the educational research and psychological analysis in the world cannot change human hearts; only God can!
When a person repents and receives Christ as Lord and Savior, the Prince of Peace comes into them (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:12). The Holy Spirit of God writes the law of God–the law of love–on the regenerated heart. In the New Covenant God promises, “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…”(Jer. 31:33). So when the Lord Jesus gave the character sketch of His people in the beatitudes He could say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).
Then, how can believers tap into God’s resources for peacemaking? First, we confess that in ourselves we are part of the problem, not part of the solution (Rom. 7:18). Second, we know and reckon on the indwelling presence of the ultimate Peacemaker–Christ Himself (Rom. 6:6,11). Third, we yield our minds and mouths to be instruments of God’s Spirit to listen attentively, forgive graciously, and speak wisely (Rom. 6:12,13; Eph. 4:15).
Tradition tells of a devout Christian back in the fourth century named Telemachus. He felt God saying to him, “Go to Rome.” He was in a cloistered monastery, yet he put his possessions in a sack and set out for city. When he arrived in the Rome, people were thronging in the streets. He asked about all the excitement and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting and killing each other in the coliseum, the day of the games, “bread and circus.” He thought to himself, “Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other for enjoyment?” He ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, “Hail to Ceasar, we die for Ceasar” and he thought, “this isn’t right.” He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, held up his hands and said “In the name of Christ, forbear.” The crowd protested and began to shout, “Run him through, Run him through.” A gladiator came over and hit him in the stomach with the back of his sword. It sent Telemachus sprawling in the sand. He got up and ran back and again said, “In the name of Christ, forbear.” The crowd continued to chant, “Run him through.” One gladiator came over and plunged his sword through the little monk’s stomach and he fell into the sand, which began to turn crimson with his blood. One last time he gasped out, “In the name of Christ forbear.” A hush came over the 80,000 people in the coliseum. Soon a man stood and left, then another and more, and within minutes all 80,000 had emptied out of the arena. It was the last known gladiatorial contest in the history of Rome.
You may be thinking, “But I’m no Telemachus; I don’t have the courage for peacemaking.” He wouldn’t have had it naturally either. He needed to be specifically called and empowered. Whether the scene is a sensational or private one, being an influence for peace requires supernatural resources. As we confess our sins and prayerfully yield to the Holy Spirit, He fills the believer’s life and bears the good fruit of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23).
Years ago a young man I was discipling had a conflict with his father-in-law. He asked me, “Why should I be the one to approach him to resolve this? He’s the one who caused the rift in the first place.” Yet this young man was the one who was a new creation in Christ. I was prompted to remind Him of the Lord’s declaration, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). That was all the young believer needed to hear. When he took the initiative in humility and love, God restored the broken relationship.
Admittedly, there may be some cases when we can promote peace but cannot “make” it. The response to peace initiatives is then the other person’s responsibility. Therefore Paul admonishes, “IF it is possible, AS MUCH AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18 – emphasis added).
OK, we see the need for peacemaking and its ultimate source, but what are the practical steps involved in this process? We plan to explore this topic in the next week’s article.
May we redeem the opportunities we have to be peacemakers while we eagerly wait for the triumphant return of Christ–the Prince of Peace. Then the Scripture will be fulfilled:
“[The LORD] shall judge between many peoples,
And rebuke strong nations afar off;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more.
But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid;
For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken” (Micah 4:3,4).
Grace Notes Vol. 5 #21, May 23, 2003
 from Christian Globe.com/Sermon Illustrations. Note that the editor has not verified if this account is historically acurate, yet it at least contains a vivid illustration that has been passed down.
 for further study on this theme, see Grace Notes, “Resolving Interpersonal Conflicts.”
This article does not address issues such as the rationale for just war; it is focused on the basic biblical principles related to conflict resolution.