When my oldest was a toddler, he thought raisins were “Candy.” He thought tomato soup was “Red Hot Soup” and baked beans were “Cowboy Beans.” I renamed all of the above to make them more palatable because I needed him to eat!  Well, I need, you need, we all need more “fruit” in our spiritual diet right nowmore peace and kindness in particular.  How perfect that my CBS friend, Petra Barrientos, has written a reflection on peace that doesn’t need any repackaging, because it’s so good. Follow it with a heaping helping of kindness served up in a recent radio interview with Biola University President, Barry Corey, titled, “Using Kindness To Open Doors In The Culture.” Listen here:

Peace by Petra Barrientos

There are a lot of pieces to peace and the Bible strings them together like pearls, one more beautiful that the one before:

“A peacemaker is someone who experiences the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) because he is at peace (Romans 5:1) with the God of peace (Philippians 4:9) through the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6), who, indeed, is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and who therefore seeks to live at peace with all others (Romans 12:18) and proclaims the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) so that others might have joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13)”. (Compiled by Dustin S., found on desiringGod.org)

There seem to be two components to this peace: one is the peace I get from faith and the other is the peace I strive for with my neighbor. Peace is a bridge, a bridge from me to God and a bridge from me to you. Looking at it that way, it makes perfect sense that Jesus would include the peacemaker in His Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Christmas has come and gone, 2017 has started – and being a peacemaker is my new year’s resolution. It is also an act of obedience… two birds with one stone, how very efficient of me. I know that this won’t be easy. Everything worth having in life requires hard work and sacrifice, blessings included.

Being a peacemaker is personal. It is the time-consuming, tedious, repetitious work of a bridge-builder. It is also risky and potentially hurtful and often thankless, regardless of whether I am one of the feuding parties or a bystander trying to step in. A few months ago I slipped and landed smack between two fighting dogs. Coming eye to eye with the flashing teeth of two snarling, growling, attacking dogs is the perfect image of what my new year’s resolution may get me into. At the end of the day, we all love a good fight and nothing is more upsetting than a seemingly self-righteous do-gooder who won’t take your side and tries to make peace instead.

Being a peacemaker is also against human nature for that very same reason: we all love a good fight. I am far more likely to be the one who is upset, outraged, insulted and mistreated. Rising above to make peace requires just that: to rise above, to look toward God, to seek His peace first.

I am not naive, I am also not likely to win the Miss Universe pageant. But if I was, I don’t think I would make “world peace” part of my acceptance speech. All that does is make the goal so lofty and impossible to reach that it becomes a utopian dream rather than a call to action. I am not talking about world peace here. I am taking about a bridge; a bridge from me to you or from you to somebody else. Like the old-fashioned marble game where the ball rolls down one track, falls onto the track below in a different direction, rings a bell or spins a wheel on its way down, and on it goes… countless bridges with some excitement along the way.

James says, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:18) Righteousness can only come from Christ and it can only be shared in peace if I make peace – and those are my marching orders for 2017: stay close to God through Christ, feel His peace through faith and trust, and then share it with you. Just like the marble, peace starts at the top and trickles down. My resolution is to clear the tracks and keep the marbles rolling – and I will be plenty busy just clearing up my own tracks. So if you and I are having a tiff, if our bridge needs mending, expect a phone call. It is the beginning of January and new year’s resolutions are still going strong. I will show up, brick and mortar in hand, to be the peacemaker God wants me to be… one bridge at a time.

Rooted In Truth Scriptures: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:16  Peace: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…Romans 5:1  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  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…Ephesians 2:14  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Kindness: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that Godʼs kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. Titus 3:4-5a  “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28  Therefore, as Godʼs chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12  ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt. 25:35-40  

Growing In Love Application:  Examine your heart. Do you have the peace of Christ or are you looking at the world and becoming fearful?  Are you a “side-taker” or fighter when you should be rising above to be a peacemaker?  If you cannot extend the bridge of peace to someone, either a particular individual or particular group of people, spend some time in prayer and ask God to show you the log in your own eye. Then confess, receive the peace of God in His forgiveness and extend both to whoever needs it. Write that note, make that call and make sure that as far as it depends on you, you are at peace with all men. Examine your actions. When was the last time you reached out to someone in kindness?  When did you respond in kindness instead of judgment?  When did you put another’s interests before your own? Are there new or marginalized people in your neighborhood or church or Bible Study or office who need a small act of your kindness to see the love that God has for them? Bake those brownies, send that card, shovel that sidewalk, let someone slide ahead of you in traffic or at the grocery store. Be alert. The Spirit will show you!

Watch: (this is the long version of an old Liberty Mutual Insurance commercial –  altered to add scripture at end)

Listen: “Using Kindness To Open Doors In The Culture.”