Peacemaker or Peace Faker?

Has anyone ever apologized to you by saying, “I’m sorry IF I offended you”? I can say from firsthand experience that it neither satisfies, nor brings about true reconciliation. It seems that our natural human response to conflict is to minimize our contribution to it, as demonstrated in the following story.
A friend, I’ll call Tricia, explained to her long-term friend, “Brad,” how his actions had hurt her. Brad denied any part in causing the conflict and implied that the problem was 100% hers. When it happened again and Tricia brought it up, Brad still denied any wrongdoing. Much later Brad finally owned up to causing some of the friction, but his apology was so weak that instead of healing the relationship, it prolonged and intensified the existing tensions. If Brad had known the significance of acknowledging Tricia’s hurt as part of an effective apology, the tensions between them could have been diffused. The Bible calls this making “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-3). We are commanded to do whatever is in our power to preserve peace and unity with gentleness, humility, and patience.
Another common response to an offense is to simply try to overlook it. While this is sometimes commendable, have you ever tried to overlook an offense only to have it corrupt your thoughts of the other person even after repeated attempts to forgive and forget? In the past this has been my favorite method, but it usually has resulted in bitterness and resentment growing in my heart.
A third popular response is the “let’s move on” approach. Have you ever gotten so weary of a conflict that you just wanted to “move on from here?” There may be situations where everything possible has been done without complete resolution taking place, in which case a “let’s move on” approach is warranted. However, are we really doing the work of reconciliation that Jesus calls us to, if broken relationships are strewn by the roadside? Not only are our relationships not at peace, but our Christian witness also has been seriously marred. Jesus dared to put his own reputation on the line by saying that God’s true character would be revealed by the unity and peace we exhibit in our relationships. (John 17:21-23). Perhaps we need to rethink some of our ideas about reconciliation.
God’s perspective on unity and peace in relationships is so paramount that he was willing to send his own son for the purpose of reconciling us to himself. Scriptures abound exhorting us to seek and pursue peace (“seek peace and pursue it” Psalm 34:14; “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Col 3:15; “live at peace with all men and be holy” Heb 12:14; “live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble…because to this you were called” I Peter 3:8-9). Peace and unity are so utterly important to God that he tells us to pursue reconciliation with a brother even ahead of worship! “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:23-24). These truths are challenging me to dig deeper into God’s character and his ideas about peace in many of my relationships. I used to think peace meant the absence of conflict, but God promises that we can have peace in the midst of conflict if we submit to his ways. The apostle Paul exhorts us to bring our anxious concerns to God, and then the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). In fact that kind of peace is one that can bring rest and harmony in the bleakest of circumstances. What a promise!
Recently while attending the “Foundations for Peacemaking” seminar at Newman Conference Center, I became aware that I had some faulty beliefs about relationships that had been affecting one person in particular. I went to her and shared where I had fallen short and asked her forgiveness. Now, with God’s grace and help, we are beginning to build a new kind of meaningful relationship.
Perhaps you have been reading this article thinking, “There’s no hope for me. You don’t know how bad my conflicts are. How could I ever live at peace?” I would urge you to attend the seminar. The concepts are solidly biblical, and while they were not new to me, the seminar showed me how to apply them to the conflicts in my life.
Remember Tricia? Her tense friendship ended up in frustration. Did she want that? No! Did Brad want that? No! Yet that is exactly where they landed, because they didn’t know a better way. Tricia attended the seminar and learned the biblical principles for true peacemaking. At last her friendship with Brad is being healed and God’s love and unity are being restored.
A good friend of mine is a lawyer who deals with conflicts every day. He said, “It has always impressed me how mediations using God''s principles of reconciliation are so much more effective than the traditional world’s way of reconciling broken relationships. Biblical peacemaking goes to the heart of the conflict, restoring human relationships, whereas secular mediation techniques can only achieve resolution of the surface issues, at best. “Foundation for Peacemaking” at Newman Conference Center is an excellent seminar for resolving personal conflict in a manner that brings honor
and glory to God. I would highly recommend it.” If you’d like to get more information about this and other pertinent seminars go to or call 509-226-5390 to register. The “Foundation for Peacemaking” seminar is June 26-27. I like what one recent participant said, “I found a ‘new vision’ of my mission - one that enables me to give grace, not scars!” Now who doesn’t want that?