What does it mean to be a peacemaker? First and foremost, it is not having an absence of conflict or accommodating all sides. There are times when compromise is not the answer. When injustice and oppression happen, claiming there is good on all sides and seeking to find the middle ground is not peacemaking. Allowing the oppressed to suffer to keep the oppressor appeased is apathy and self-preservation.
A peacemaker is someone who works to reconcile people to God and to one another. They are doing the work. Rather than sitting idly by, they are saying to the world that every human is made in the image of God, and if you don’t see the dignity of God in the face of the stranger, the oppressed, your neighbor and even your enemy, then you are in the wrong.
Peacemakers you need to know
Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker. In Isaiah 9:6 it was prophesied that the Messiah would be the Prince of Peace. Whenever Jesus healed the sick and forgave them of their sins, He would then tell them to “go in peace.” He was a peacemaker, crucified for His message. You see, He made the mistake of telling the powerful to stop holding unrealistic expectations over others. He told all those He encountered to go and love one another. Basically, He said to be nice, and He was killed for it. Being a peacemaker comes with a price.
Some of the names that follow might make you pause. You may wonder why they are on a list for peacemakers when conflict surrounds their stories. Sit with that discomfort and ask God to show you why the name raises the hair on the back of your neck or quickens your pulse. These names are here because they have stood up for the oppressed, regardless of the cost to self.
Brené Brown has spent over a decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame. She currently has a one-hour special on Netflix: “The Call to Courage.” She encourages listeners to embrace vulnerability. In the face of scarcity, fear and uncertainty,Brown asks us to choose courage over comfort. Listen carefully to her words and see why courage is impossible without vulnerability.
Ashley Irons, Elijah Misigaro, and Ryan Holmes explore the intersections of race, ethnicity and gender in politics, culture and theology on their podcast “We Talk Different.” Their latest edition is an interview with Dr. Reverend Neil Cazares-Thomas, the senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope, the largest predominantly gay church in the world. Listen to it on SoundCloud.
Writer James Baldwin explored issues of race, sexuality and religion in his many essays, short stories, novels, plays and poems. The documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” is taken from a collection of Baldwin’s notes and tells the story of three peacemakers — Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers — who paid the ultimate price for seeking freedom for the oppressed. These three men challenged racism. They demanded their country to look at the African American community and to declare them human beings. James Baldwin highlights their journey as peacemakers and tells the stories and complexities of being a black American during the civil rights movement of the ‘50s. He asks not just that we see the African American community as humans but also the LGBTQ community. Basically, Baldwin’s message is the same as Christ’s. He is saying that we are to see the beauty of God’s creation in every human we encounter.
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In case you missed them, here are the ten peacemakers listed above: