This is post #27 of a series entitled Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace. We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here you’ll find very practical and biblically-sound advice on building bridges instead of walls, offering hope instead of despair. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click on the link below to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Truth #9: Peacemakers Embrace Our Role as Facilitators in God’s Circle of Peace.
Today’s Lectio Divina: If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Romans 12: 6-13 MsgB
This week we’re discussing what I call my Ten Commandments For Facilitators in God’s Circle of Peace. Last time, we covered:
I. Know who you are, what you believe & where you are called.
II. Keep your circle of non-negotiables small.
III. Ask for God’s gift of holy indifference.
Today, let’s begin here:
Commandment IV: Build bridges while respecting walls.
Let’s face it. It’s easier to throw up a wall, close a door, or move to another neighborhood than it is to sit down face to face with another person and actually try to work out our differences. Sadly, in this age of social media, it’s become common place to simply dismiss a person we disagree with by deleting their name from our database, or unfriending that person on Facebook. But, as I see it, a peacemaker, called by Christ, must reject this mindset and become a proactive builder of bridges in a time when erecting walls has become the norm.
So, using this bridge-builder theme, what’s the process? First, one must survey the land, mapping out where the shortest gap lies, testing soils to find the strongest foundation for the bridge to be built. Once the bridge builder has the blueprints, water-tight concrete caissons are submerged into the riverbed, filling them with concrete. These caissons then become the unmovable base on which a suspension bridge’s towers are finally built.
So, it is with building relational bridges in the world of Christ-centered peacemaking. First, you and I must survey the lay of the land. We look for the prime spots where a bridge of peace might be built between two people. Where is the common ground? Keep in mind, if walls are present (which they almost certainly are), those barriers have been placed there for a reason. Many times a whole new layer of trust will need to be birthed before it’s time to tear down a dividing wall. Be patient here. Focus on the building, not the demolition. Next, at strategic spots, we sink into place solid caissons of faith, hope, and love, building strong towers of trust that can support the roadway of our new peace bridge. Finally, as we complete the construction, we invite the other parties to come and see for themselves, providing easily accessible on-ramps so our friends can begin the process of building peace with both us and their former enemy.
A great on-going question for a bridge-builder is this…
Will someone who looks, feels, thinks, or believes differently from me be able to step onto this foundational stone with me or will it drive them away?
*This is the sixteenth in a variety of practical suggestions/resources we will make throughout this blog/podcast series. We call these exercises:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 9 (NIV)
Here’s a couple of great peace-making resources. Enjoy!
Tool #16: Building Bridges of Peace in a Walled-Off World.
Commandment V: Focus on the power of one.
So many times, in our zeal to get something good done for God, we measure our success (or failure) by the numbers. As we discussed earlier in this blog/podcast series, Jesus always seemed to measure the success of His ministry through the care of one soul at a time. Many times, we find Jesus actually shooing away the crowds by telling them something very hard (You must eat my body and drink my blood) or by telling those he had just healed to go and tell no one else! You see, while Jesus ministered to thousands, He fully understood the power of one.
As peacemakers for the cause of Christ, we must always prayerfully begin our work by asking Jesus to identify one person with whom we might begin the peace process with. I know that won’t seem powerful to our westernized “bigger is better” mindset, but believe me, it truly is. My friend, Rick Love, who ended up ministering to hundreds and hundreds of people via his peacemaking efforts between Christians and Muslims, always insisted that the peace process begin and end with one conversation at a time.
Commandment VI: Stop-Look-Listen.
Once, you have found that one person that Jesus has identified for you, now it’s time to start building a foundational relationship, extending a personal invitation onto your bridge of peace. Be intentional. Make time for the two of you to sit down over a cup of great coffee, a glass of wine, or a nice meal, and practice the fine art of listening. I suggest you start by giving time for your new friend to tell you a bit of their story with no interruptions. You can start by asking an open ended question, followed by:
Stop. You’ve asked a great question, now shut up. Be quiet. Be still. No advice-giving. No suggestions. No turning the conversation back to you.
Look. Keep your eyes open as your friend talks. Watch his or her body language. Pay attention to things like crossed or open arms or legs, open hands vs closed, frowns or smiles, eyes wide open or closed, body tenseness or a relaxed state, etc..
Listen: Pay attention for words that point toward feelings or emotions, not just their thoughts. Listen for, what we call in spiritual direction, a phrase or word that shimmers or sparkles above all the others. More than likely, if you remain curious here, you can come back to that moment, and ask a follow-up observation or question such as, “Wow, you really lit up when you told me that part of your story…can you tell me more about that?”
As I see it, these middle three of my Ten Commandments for Facilitators in God’s Circle of Peace…
IV. Build bridges while respecting walls.
V. Focus on the power of one.
…are foundation-building truths when it comes to successful peace-making. Or as Jesus said it:
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7: 24-25 (NIV)
My Prayer: Father God, give me eyes to see the lay of the land. As one who desires to build bridges for the purposes of God’s peace, show me Your blueprints and direct me as I put Your plans to work. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower me with the wisdom to always build bridges of peace upon the Truth found within the words of Jesus of Nazareth, the Rock of Ages. Show me the Way. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Questions to Ponder: In today’s Lectio Divina (Romans 12: 6-13), we are encouraged to many practical actions:
- just preach God’s Message,
- give encouraging guidance,
- keep your eyes open and be quick to respond,
- keep a smile on your face,
- love from the center of who you are,
- run from evil; hold on to good,
- be (a) good friend who loves deeply,
- practice playing second fiddle,
- keep yourselves fueled and aflame,
- be alert servants, cheerfully expectant,
- help (the) needy,
- be inventive in hospitality.
So, as a peacemaker for the cause of Christ, which of these actions might I work on today?
So, how are you experiencing God’s presence as you are becoming a peacemaker for the cause of Christ?
Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace.
We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!