Peacekeeping vs Peacemaking

peaceI worked security for a number of years. In college I worked as a dispatcher for Calvin College Campus Safety. And for a number of years I worked as a mall cop. During my time working security, I worked with a number of awesome police officers. Their job–keep the peace. I was once asked by my supervisor when I was a mall cop what the difference was between public safety and security. My answer: Public safety is proactive; security is reactive. And that says a lot about us as people in general.

We like peace. There’s something about having peace in our lives, in our streets, in our nation, and in our world. We want order. We want calmness. We want everyone to get along. And so we keep the peace.

Peace keeping is reactive though. We react in order to keep the peace. Some one raises a stink about something, we react and try to placate them in the  name of keeping the peace. Someone starts on an angry rampage and everyone gets out of the person’s way, makes excuses for the anger, and even pretends it didn’t happen in the name of keeping the peace.

This happens in our relationships. This happens in our churches. This happens with our family and friends. We try to keep the peace. We try to keep everyone happy. If everyone is happy, then there’s peace, right?


If you try to make everyone happy, no one will be happy.

The harder we try to keep the peace, the problems that cause the reaction to try to keep the peace rumble and bubble under the surface. They simmer under the thing layer created in the name of keeping the peace and one day they will violently erupt like the alien larva in Alien. The problems we’ve suppressed in the name of peace will break forth in gore and pain, wrecking more havoc than if they would have if dealt with previously but weren’t in the name of peace. We think this is what we need to do in order to keep the peace. Yet when we do, we do more harm than good.

Peace really isn’t what you think it is. We think of peace as the negative definition of not having strife or friction or war. But that’s not peace.

The Old Testament word for peace is shalom. Shalom is an all encompassing peace that is holistic and spiritual. It is a peace that harkens us back to how it was with God in the Garden of Eden. It is the peace of being present with God. It is a restorative peace. This is the peace we need to make, not keep.

Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount in what is called the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Jesus says blessed are the ones who make peace, not the ones who keep the peace. Another way of looking at is “Blessed are the ones who make room for peace to happen.” Peace making is creating room for shalom to happen. Peace making is making room for restoration to happen.

Many times, when someone is raising a stink, someone is flying off the handle in anger, or someone’s just being a down right jerk, and we try to keep the peace and placate them. Peacemaking is creating restoration of relationship. It is creating shalom in the relationship with the person who is causing the issue. Instead of placating the issue, it is dealing with the issue by speaking the truth in love.

Peacemaking is shalom creating. It is creating room for shalom to happen. It is making room to help one another understand what it means to know the peace of God which transcends all understanding. And when we have this restorative shalom, we are able to have our hearts and minds guarded in Jesus.

Instead of trying to placate someone in the name of keeping the peace, speak the truth in love and create space for restorative shalom.

When we try to keep the peace, we shove down all the problems, all the bad feelings, and anger that is there in the name of peace.

We look like Unikitty from The Lego Movie suppressing the anger we really feel.

unikitty 1When we do that we explode like Unikitty in pure anger and really don’t keep the peace.

unikitty 2We are to create room for shalom, for real restorative peace. We are to restore relationships to that which they are supposed to be, loving and filled with truth.

This involves stepping forward. This involves facing conflict. This involves addressing pains and hurts. In the name of keeping the peace, pains and hurts have been pushed down. In the name of making peace, creating room for shalom, these pains and hurts need to be addressed in order for true peace to reign in your life.

Where are you trying to keep the peace? How can you create room for shalom and be a peacemaker?

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One Response to Peacekeeping vs Peacemaking

  1. Pingback: Sunsets, Footholds, and Actions | Spiritual Musclehead

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