Reading my social media feeds has become increasingly disturbing over the past months; it seems as if the pseudo-anonymity of posting whatever you feel like is okay. Is the norm. Is acceptable. Even for those of us who call ourselves Christians?
But is it, really?
I used to chuckle at the Hebrew National hot dog commercials when that voice would intone “We answer to a higher authority!” Amusing (and they are great hot dogs!), yet, shouldn’t that be our motto, also?
A few days ago I read a post by a fellow pastor that made me cringe. Actually, it was worse than that—this pastor was arrogantly posting on a prominent social medium “fake facts,” stirring up feelings and enjoying the emotional storm, placing himself as the expert in this field.
The main point of this blog, however, is not to disprove the blatantly false statements that this man wrote, or to set his followers straight. I was appalled at the disregard for truth and charity in the conversational thread, and my innate desire for justice flared, but I recognized that in this case, it would be a losing battle with a man who enjoyed sparring with words and ideas.
So what is the whole point of my personal rant here?
I recognized that my desire for self preservation was way stronger than my drive to protect anyone who might be in the path of this vitriolic self-proclaimed prophet. One phrase that I whisper to myself whenever I am feeling kind of stirred up and maybe on the verge of a meltdown is “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Not a bad motto. Goes along with “We answer to a higher authority,” doesn’t it? And on a superficial level, avoiding controversy and conflict is contributing to the peace, isn’t it?
And yet. Is avoiding conflict really contributing to peace? When we get down to the basics, when I think about the real, potent, powerful peace that King Jesus came to bring us, I am shamed. The peace that Jesus promoted came at a tremendous cost—sacrificial cost.
Real peace—God’s peace—(Hebrew: שָׁלוֹם shalom) is a Hebrew word meaning “peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility.”
This is a peace that is willing to take chances.
To stick its neck out. To make a real difference.
To do more than merely avoid conflict.
The type of “peace” that I was so carefully and self-righteously attempting by not responding to that man’s social media was no peace. I was not a peacemaker, I was a situation surfer. I was riding the wave of controversy, trying to not fall off into the deep water. Making no difference whatsoever in that situation.
To be a real peacemaker, I must be willing to take risks.
To expose danger in order to protect the vulnerable. Bringing peace is more than just pasting a smile on my face and enduring an uncomfortable situation—it means to muscularly do what I can to promote the shalom of God’s kingdom here on earth.
“Blessed are the peacemakers,” and not the Situation Surfers.