by Wendie Connors
(Editor’s note: This is the 7th in an 8-part series on The Beatitudes & Evangelism [reference: Matthew 5:3-10].)
I’ve been camping out in Romans 12 lately. I love the way Paul can throw out a lifetime supply of advice on righteous living in one simple chapter, don’t you? But just because it sounds simple, that doesn’t mean it’s always so easy!
It reminds me of Jesus and the Beatitudes. They sound beautiful (and even logical), but we humans can let ourselves get in the way of “simple” and muck things up into a complicated mess, especially when it comes to the peacemaking bit in Matthew 5:9.
Paul tells us in Romans 1:14-16 that a true evangelist is obligated, eager, and unashamed to share the gospel message. I wholeheartedly agree with him! However, sometimes in our zeal I wonder if we can come across as overly “in your face.”
In sharing the gospel as a message of everlasting peace (not just a temporary lull in the chaos of life), I wonder if we sometimes appear anything but a picture of peace. Even with the best intentions, our words can come across as judgmental, hypocritical, and – worse yet – lacking love and kindness.
But loving kindness is exactly what Jesus calls us to share in Mathew 5:9, and he needs us to share it with the peace of the One who came to pay the price for the chaos of sin. We need to be in the business of mending fences, not creating higher walls.
So what’s an obligated, eager, and unashamed peacemaker to do? Well, how about we take some of Paul’s advice and let our actions, in conjunction with our words, do the talking? Spread the peace of our Lord by emulating how He led His life here. Lead by example, not just by word.
Here’s what I mean (adapted from Romans 12):
- Notice the people around you and encourage them with your smile, your words, and your behavior. For instance, laugh with people when they are happy; cry with them when they are sad. Bring them a treat when they are discouraged or sick. Hug them when they need it, and back off when they need distance. Forgive them when they’re sorry. Even forgive them when they act like they’re not!
- Stick up for those who are less able and/or less fortunate. You have a strong heart of compassion; don’t neglect it. The more you use it, the more others will see God through you. Surprise people with your goodness. They will not forget it.
- Lead by example, but don’t be bossy. Let others feel important by listening. Respond by using your intellect and lots of encouraging guidance. Never make anyone feel stupid. There is no room for that in this job.
- Be yourself. No one can “fake it” forever. It makes you tired and you won’t be able to keep it up. Remember, you were created by a glorious and loving God.
Now THAT’S some peacemaking evangelizing, wouldn’t you say? Jesus is the ultimate Peacemaker, friends. If we use our words in conjunction with our actions, we become peacemaking protégés (and children of our amazing God) in the process!
Wendie Connors is founder of Stringing Pearls with Wendie, She is an author, blogger, and speaker, and loves nothing better than learning and teaching about Jesus, and how to weave scripture into each aspect of everyday life. Check out Stringing Pearls on Facebook.