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Keith Wishum: Peace on Earth

A brightly colored, back-page photo caught my eye. It was a picture of residents of the Florida Keys who got together in the shallow water along a beach with kayaks and rafts to spell out the words “Peace on Earth Day.”
Ironically, the front page of the same paper carried a story about the ongoing Mid-east conflict. Hardly peace on earth. And, truth be told, we often have little peace in our own little worlds. We clash with people at work. The feud with the neighbors continues. The children argue, and we often fight even with the one we promised to love forever. Where is peace on earth?
The problem is: wishing for peace won’t make it happen. It’s true of the planet; it’s true of our own little worlds. Peace is almost always hard won. Jesus did not say, “Blessed are the peace-lovers.” What he said was, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9)
Makers. Doers. Creators of peace. Those are the ones who bear family resemblance to the Father. Peace must be worked at, not just wished for.
How do we make peace? The first step is to assume personal responsibility for it. Somebody wrongs you? Jesus taught that you should take the initiative to talk with the person to explain your grievance, to listen and understand their perspective, and resolve the difference (Matthew 18:15). Were you the one who hurt someone? Don’t wait for them to speak up. You go to the one you wronged and offer your apologies (Matthew 5:23). Regardless of who is wrong, it is always your responsibility to attempt to resolve the conflict.
Imagine a world in which people did that — where people refuse to let hurt feelings fester, where insulting actions were explained and apologies were quickly offered. Would that be better than the world in which you currently live?
If so, let me offer this challenge. Be a peacemaker. Start today. Go now to those with whom you have conflict and sincerely ask how you might help improve your relationship with them. Offer an apology where appropriate. Give someone who has hurt you a chance to explain his actions. Seek to understand and find mutually acceptable solutions.
Will this bring peace to the earth? Not totally, but it will increase the peace in your world. And it sure beats spelling out words with a kayak.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.