To be a peacemaker, go higher
In order to bring peace today, it is our duty to follow in Christ Jesus’ footsteps
by lifting our thought to God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). This is possibly the best known of the beautiful assurances, since known as the Beatitudes, that begin Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Each beatitude shares a spiritual quality that leads to blessings—blessings that include a deep happiness, peace, and well-being. But what does it mean to be a peacemaker today? It must mean more than simply avoiding or settling arguments.
According to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the definition of peace includes “a state of quiet or tranquillity; freedom from disturbance or agitation,” “freedom from internal commotion,” “harmony; concord,” and “heavenly rest.” This helped me realize that peace must be genuinely felt within; an outward appearance of calm and peace is not enough. I cannot be an effective peacemaker for others until I feel peace and harmony myself, through striving to be free from any form of upset or anxiety.
Christ Jesus surely had this pure sense of peace. His birth was heralded by angels declaring, “On earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Jesus’ lifework gave us clear examples of being a peacemaker and exhibiting spiritual qualities. He saved a woman from a group that felt she deserved to be stoned, and walked unharmed himself through a hateful crowd intending to stone him (see John 8:3–11 and Luke 4:28–30). He had to have kept his thought on God, not letting fear, self-righteousness, or anger enter in. Without this exalted thought centered on God, he wouldn’t have been able to provide or experience protection against a mob bent on harm.
A sentence from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy also brought me a new perspective on peace: “The calm and exalted thought or spiritual apprehension is at peace” (p. 506). The word and really struck me. The calm and exalted thought is at peace. My thought needs to be both calm and exalted, and this is the first step in being a peacemaker.
In order to achieve this, I need to lift my thought to see others as Jesus would have seen them: in their true, spiritual nature as the likeness of our creator, God. And I can’t see just friends and family this way. The Apostle Paul admonished us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). He wasn’t instructing us to live peaceably just with those who share our beliefs, but with all people. How can this be done in the face of turmoil, hatred, and division?
An experience I had several years ago illustrates the importance of exalted thought when faced with conflict. I was a teacher of emotionally disturbed students. As the only teacher in that position in the district, I typically had the same students for many consecutive years. I was required to work closely with the families as well as the students, and that was often the most challenging part of my job.
Peace must be genuinely felt within; an outward appearance of calm and peace is not enough.
While I was on maternity leave, I was asked to attend a meeting to address a contentious issue regarding one of the students. The parents were aggressive and angry, and had demanded this meeting. Both the parents and the principal wanted me in attendance for support. I have to admit that at first I was not enthused about this and wanted to be home with my baby, far away from that hostile environment. As I tried to justify reasons not to attend, these words from Jesus came to mind: “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). I realized that the most important thing I could do every day was to serve God, to be about His business—which meant to me that I should promote peace. This peacemaking included attending that meeting.
I spent time praying each day leading up to the meeting. I knew that the only way I could be about my Father’s business was to listen only to God and put my own opinions aside. I had to consciously exalt my thought to a spiritual view of everyone involved—a view that helped me to love the student, his family, and the school personnel on the basis of each one’s true spiritual nature. By the time I entered the school for the meeting, I felt inner peace and joy instead of resentment. I was genuinely happy to see everyone, and the meeting was harmonious. All issues were discussed thoughtfully and resolved, and all parties were treated with respect. The principal pulled me aside afterward to thank me and to say that my very presence had made all the difference. I knew without a doubt that it was not my presence, but rather the Christ—the healing, divine Love that Christ Jesus demonstrated—that had brought peace.
In order to bring peace and healing today, it is our duty and privilege to follow in Christ Jesus’ footsteps by lifting our thought to God. We can do this by refusing to outline how things ought to be done and relying instead on God, good, for natural ways forward. The Christ enables us to look at others with true, spiritual love, free of personal opinions, perspectives, or agendas.
We can bring peace to a situation by exchanging a worried, limited, or hopeless point of view for an understanding of God, divine Love, which nullifies fear, anger, and hatred, and enables all to feel and experience God’s lovingkindness. This state of thought is surely what the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said of God, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). How much more peaceful our thoughts are when we trust any situation to God rather than to ourselves.