How To Be Peacemakers (Without Being Wimps)

I have a framed copy of the Beatitudes above my computer screen. I put it there when I started writing on a regular basis, to remind me of Jesus’ most important commandments to anyone who would be His follower.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

It’s being called a son of God that’s been sitting with me this week.

How can we be a peacemaker in a time that calls so loudly for resistance? Does peacemaking mean passivity? Does loving our enemies mean singing Kumbaya while they burn the house down around us?

As a Christian, a follower of Jesus and someone who tries daily to live by that example, it is my highest calling and my most important commitment to love everyone around me. I am to love the oppressor as much as I love the oppressed. I am to love the abuser as much as the abused. I am to love the murderer as much as the victim.

I am to love those people. But, that love does not look the same in all cases.

Let me say it again: love does not look the same in all cases.

Loving an oppressed person or people looks like support and solidarity.

Loving an oppressor must look like resistance.


The featured image is of Confessing Church protestors in 1933 Germany. (Note: the image is difficult to translate. “…church remains. …: Gospel and Church” is all I got from it.) For anyone unfamiliar with the Confessing Church: it was a movement that grew in resistance to continued Nazi interference in Church affairs. It was primarily a movement dedicated to State non-interference, but many of its leaders (including Karl Barth, Martin Niemoller, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer) spoke out eloquently against the social injustices of the Nazi regime.

Many leaders of the Confessing Church were arrested, imprisoned, and even executed in concentration camps.

They were subjected to arrest, imprisonment, torture, and execution because of their resistance to an unjust society.

Not all Christians followed the example of the Confessing Church in resistance. Many Christians in Nazi Germany were committed to a passive form of peacemaking – a preservation of status quo. No matter that they objected to State interference – they were unwilling to commit to resistance, to protest. No doubt, they wished for the unity of the German Church and the German State.

Now, it’s been very fashionable to compare the rise of Donald Trump with the rise of Hitler, and I had a tendency to roll my eyes quite a bit every time I saw a meme that suggested similarities.

But, after the last week, I’m seeing those similarities. Attacks on scapegoated minorities. Calls for unity. A church that is passive at best and complicit at worst.

Donald Trump might not be Hitler, but 2016 America looks a lot like 1933 Germany.


This is a moment for the Church. This is a moment for us to be peacemakers, to love both our enemies and the most vulnerable… and to reclaim our militant, non-violent spirit of protest against injustice. The time for nicety and passive peacemaking is over.

We have to be willing to love the vulnerable, the oppressed, the harassed, the insulted, and the assaulted. We have to be willing to love them in a sacrificial way, in a way that makes us into the body and blood of Christ – broken and poured out for the world and her sins.

We have to be willing to love the abusers, the oppressors, the harassers, the crass, the bullies, and the brutalizers. We have to be willing to love them by standing in their way, between them and those that they would hurt, and saying “Only through me.”

We have to resist the easy, comfortable path of unity and status quo – the path that makes us into mewling theological wimps instead of the cubs of the Lion of Judah.

Karl Barth said in 1935: “For the millions that suffer unjustly, the Confessing Church does not yet have a heart.”

Berlin Deaconess Marga Meusel said, of the Confessing Church’s timidity to directly protest the social injustices of the Nazis: “Why does the church do nothing? Why does it allow unspeakable injustice to occur? … What shall we one day answer to the question, where is thy brother Abel? The only answer that will be left to us, as well as to the Confessing Church, is the answer of Cain.”

Think on that: the greatest regret of the leaders of the Confessing Church – the Church that placed itself in direct opposition to the Nazis – is that they didn’t speak firmly enough against injustice.

May we never be so timid, or so passive. Let us take our peacemaking into the streets.