There’s a certain weed that I see every day has been bothering me lately.
It’s an eyesore, an unwelcome guest. The only problem is that it’s not in my yard. Or at least I don’t think it is.
There’s a weed that my neighbor sees every day that has been bothering him lately. It’s an eyesore, an unwelcome guest. The only problem is that it’s not in his yard. Or at least he doesn’t think it is.
For the last few weeks, every time I’ve gotten into my car I’ve looked at this Seymour of a plant (some of you got that reference) and scoffed at why my neighbor hasn’t pulled it. Doesn’t it annoy him? Doesn’t he get how irresponsible it looks in the middle of the manicured landscape? Why doesn’t he just do what is right and take care of the issue?
In Jesus’ first sermon he begins by sharing what it looks like to live a true life blessed by God.
He talks about living counter-culture in character. The familiar passage in the first section of Matthew 5 is a staple for us as ministers to hammer home other truths that we find in scripture. Frequently I find myself in the pulpit saying something like, “If you want to live a happy, abundant, spirit-filled life, the beatitudes are the starting and ending point.” Within these 13 verses, there is a wealth of wisdom.
Yet, I will say that there is one challenge that Jesus gives that I find tough to follow: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
Leaders are tasked with keeping peace. It comes with the job title. It’s labor intensive and many times it comes with a quantifiable cost of energy, heart and time. I love when things are peaceful around me. I love when my staff is of one mind and purpose. I love when the congregation is unified and giving to one another. I love when my two sons aren’t fighting and sharing their Nerf guns (It’s a bonus when they are doing that act of sharing outside, far away, in quiet whispers or sign language.) If you live around other humans peace is a commodity that is valued.
But this encouragement isn’t at all saying Blessed are the peace lovers. It’s a call to be peacemakers.
Nothing is made without intention. For all of our wanting of peace within the communities that we exist in or lead, peace must be sown. Consider what James says (James 2:17-18) as he contrasts worldly and Godly wisdom,
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
This is a straightforward complementary promise to Jesus’ words in Matthew. We will reap a reward of righteousness if we are intentional in making peace. What I believe to be the key in this type of intentional crafting of peace is looking at every conflict as an opportunity.
Let’s go back to the weed in the side yard.
There’s a cold war of responsibility denial happening between me and my neighbor. I believe with everything in me that it is 100% his obligation to be rid of the weed. He (in error I might add) believes the burden is mine. Our silly and yet powerful pride has gotten in the way of simply getting rid of the weed and as a result get rid of the annoyance and distraction. So quietly I am waiting for him to be moved to do the right thing instead of making the right thing happen and pull the weed myself. I’m missing an opportunity here.
To be a sower of peace one must live in a spirit of humility. This flies in the face of our need as leaders to defend our rights but is in accordance with the rest of the beatitudes that Jesus is stressing. See, this peacemaking pushes our needs behind others and dare I say, behind being right, getting credit, and feeling good about ourselves…. Ask yourself, am I known as a sower of unity in circles I live in? Are you going to take the initiative to pull the weed out immediately – regardless of fault, responsibility or discomfort – for the sake of sowing into something better? This is the call, this is a major element to a life blessed by God.