Peacemaker or Peace-breaker?

There will be times in your life, where you will be deeply offended or deeply hurt by someone. Most times, it is by someone really close to you, someone you care for and deeply love. You will feel like you have the right to be angry, hurt and bitter towards that person.

Some might choose to be revengeful and take action, “get even” and then there are those that have the attitude of: “I’m not a violent person or mean, so I will just ignore that person and never talk to him/her again!!”

What do both these actions lead to?

More hurt, more pain, more anger, more bitterness.

It resolves nothing.

You might be asking now: “So Cláudia, what does?”

FORGIVENESS and RECONCILIATION!

In South Africa, a commission called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was formed after Apartheit ended,  where victims of gross human rights violations, were invited to give statements about their experiences and some were selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.

The TRC, was seen by many as a crucial component of the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa. Despite some flaws, it has been seen to have been successful.

Successful, how and why?

One of main reasons for the TRC, being created, was with the intention for the healing and pacification of victims. In revealing their stories, victims would obtain liberation and closure from their grief.

In many cases, as victims told their stories, they showed relief of their pain and in some cases even brought reconciliation between them and their perpetrators.

An example, was in the case of the “Motherwell Bombing” incident, where a chief commander, admitted to sending three black policemen on a false mission, in which their car was loaded with explosives that led to their murder. As the widows of the murdered men, met with this chief commander at the TRC, they not only exchanged stories and uncovered the truth of what happened, but bestowed forgiveness upon the man who had killed their husbands and found reconciliation with him.

In many ways, such as this, the TRC promoted healing for the victims and the perpetrators and encouraged forgiveness.

Often I think, they left out a word in the Commission’s name. Instead of TRC, it should have been TFRC, Truth, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Commission.

In Matthew 6:12, when Jesus taught us to pray, he prayed ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’.

Forgiving others is not optional for Christians; it is a command!

Furthermore in Romans 12: 17-20, it also says that:

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” “

So it is not for us to take justice into our own hands but leave it to the Lord.

Let’s try understand ‘Forgiveness’ and ‘Reconciliation’

Forgiveness *

Forgiveness is a very challenging issue because it seems to mean that the offender gets away free. They may have acted deliberately and may not be sorry. They may do it again and go “unpunished”. There seems to be no motivation for the hurt person to begin this journey. However, even though forgiveness is not easy, it is necessary for the good of the hurt person. People who are hurt and do not forgive, often continue to suffer stress and emotional wounds because they are holding on to the anger and bitterness.

Forgiveness is often misunderstood.

It is a choice to let go of our hurt and resentment. It does not mean:

■ that we excuse or approve of the offence

■ that the offence is forgotten or did not matter

■ that the offence has no consequences

■ that the injured person, or their hurt does not matter.

Reconciliation *

Reconciliation is a process that goes beyond forgiveness. It is achieved when people who have been in conflict reach a positive relationship with each other.

Reconciliation usually requires an experienced mediator or counsellor who is trusted and can speak to everyone involved in the conflict. This counsellor must be wise, emotionally mature, resilient, objective, and never take sides.

A mediator cannot solve the conflict on their own. All those involved must decide that reconciliation is the best option for each of them, that it is better than continuing the conflict.

Everyone needs to be committed to the process, to making it as easy as possible to sit at the same table and live in the same community. Potential future conflicts should be discussed and worked through.

Where an offence has been committed, the offender should be sorry, and ready to admit that.  If  they don’t want to communicate, or are defensive, it means they are not ready for reconciliation.

Reconciliation is not just an event. It must become a value and a lifestyle.

It should be passed on from one generation to the next, through Bible study, discussion, discipline, and by living as an example.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are part of a journey that few people make but whose destination is freedom, health, and peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus tells his disciples ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God’.

Peacemaking is an essential aspect of the Christian character. Notice the word peacemakers.

Peace has to be made. It is not something that just happens.

It is interesting that our sinful nature makes us peace-breakers. This is shown in today’s world as much as in the time of Jesus. Because of sin, people all too easily break the peace. This can be through large-scale wars, destructive conflict between individuals, and sadly conflict within or between churches.

People’s relationship with God is restored through the blood of Christ. But in these verses in Matthew 5, Jesus is also showing concern for healing within society. He wants to see restored relationships between people, and he wants Christians will be peacemakers. This means that Christians should make peace with each other. Christians also have a role in creating opportunities for conflicting non-believers to meet and reconcile. By providing opportunities for reconciliation, we can show the reconciling power of the gospel in a visible way.

I am guilty of being incredibly hurt by a couple of people that mean the world to me and who I love dearly but because of this hurt and in a ‘defensive mode’ so “not to get hurt” again, I chose to “ignore” these people, not talk to them, avoid them, just in case they might say or do something again, and hurt me even more. But the truth is, it eats at me daily. It affects the peace within me. I miss them both dearly and I need them in my life. Sad truth is, the 3 of us are practising Christians, people with hearts for Jesus but unfortunately, we are not truly living in His example and being obedient to His command to forgive and be peacemakers.

So today, I choose to be a Peacemaker!

I choose to make amends with these people, forgive, reconcile and live the Word of my God, not only so I have peace with these people but also that I may have peace within myself.

Be awesomely blessed! 🙂

Cláudia

*Definitions on ‘Forgiveness’ and ‘Reconciliation’ were borrowed from an outside source.

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