This was written as a sermon prompt for The Abbey worshipping community. It is a reflection on the story of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple (John 2:13-22 (LectionaryPage.net).
I’m not a table flipper. In fact, if I had been with Jesus and the disciples on that day, I would have probably been nervous, watching the reaction of the religious leaders. I might have even made some excuse about the long journey we had been on, lack of sleep, or the fact that Jesus had not had a good breakfast that morning. Inside though, I would have been proud of what he did and envious of his ability to do it. He saw the same injustices that I did, but he was willing to do something drastic about it.
I’m a peacekeeper. I see the injustices in the world, but my knee-jerk response is to try to make the world get along. I want conflict to end and for us to find some common ground. The problem with that is keeping the peace often allows injustices to continue and ultimately, the relationships are broken beyond repair.
Jesus was a peacemaker. There’s a difference between the two. Peacekeeping often avoids conflict. Peacemaking often requires conflict. I heard this important distinction recently in a podcast episode by Joshua Luke Smith. He gave me a new perspective on the word “confrontation.” He said we need to stop looking at confrontation in negative terms. It isn’t arguing with people on social media or going on a crusade against the world – though both of those might happen. Confrontation is reconciliation and restoration. When we try to keep the peace in our relationships, we often do not speak up when we’ve been hurt. When we do that, the relationship becomes broken by the unspoken words and feelings between us. But, when we seek to make peace, we reach out to the other side. Sometimes, that is simply opening a dialogue where both voices can be heard. Sometimes, that is calling injustice behaviors out or doing something bold to make it difficult for the injustice to continue being hidden.
I’m scared to be a peacemaker. Ironically, I realized today that I have every trait to be one according to an enneagram definition of it. I am a people-pleaser, friendly, agreeable, cooperative, adaptable, trusting easy-going, and empathetic. I may never flip a table, but maybe I’ll have the courage to write or say something bold one day. All I need now is a stronger desire to make peace rather than try to just keep it.
How can we be peacemakers instead of peacekeepers?