Matthew 5:9(NIV) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
John 14:27(NIV) “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.”
With the death of Nelson Mandela on December 5, the world has lost a great peacemaker. A man who dedicated much of his life to ending apartheid, but not just ending it, to reconciling the entire nation of South Africa. To the bringing together a nation of many diverse cultures, racial backgrounds and faiths. A monumental challenge that is continuing yet today. One thing I saw first hand when I was serving in South Africa was how the country is raising up its youth to run a nation, to bring about change, counting on the youth to be the future for their country. (View South Africa Blog)
Nelson Mandela said “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” I believe there is a lot of truth to this. The significance of our lives. We all hope to leave a legacy, to make our mark on society.
Peace and reconciliation. They do work together, hand in hand, because with reconciliation comes peace. As Christ followers we are called by God to be peacemakers in our everyday lives. To practice forgiveness (Romans 12:18). Forgiveness to those who’ve hurt us, slighted us, or just get on our nerves. Some hurts are harder to forgive than others and may take supernatural help from God to forgive, some may require some counseling to help come to terms with the hurt. But ultimately its in the forgiving that we can find peace. Nelson Mandela was able to forgive his jailers for the many ways he was persecuted, beaten, and dehumanized. He endured and because of his forgiveness was able to make great strides in personal peace and peace for a nation.
Jesus taught forgiveness and reconciliation. He showed us to look at our own sin before we accuse others (Matthew 7:3-5), that with forgiveness comes peace. That applies to you and me. I am a sinner and need forgiveness from God daily for the ways I ignore or disobey his commands. All I have to do is lay those sins at the foot of the cross and ask forgiveness from him. Sometimes the sin happens to be anger I carry toward another which can fester and create barriers. Sin festers. But Jesus offers us reconciliation through his blood on the cross. Forgiveness is ours for the asking. Not just for the sins of today, but for the sins of the past and the future. Have you sought out God and asked forgiveness? Would you like to be reconciled to your heavenly Father? His love is so great for you, he sent Jesus to earth so that he could pay the penalty for your sin an mine.
With the reconciliation comes peace. It’s not a peace like the world thinks, but a peace that settles in your soul. A peace that can only come through Christ himself. When we seek forgiveness from Christ and reconcile with him, we begin living in peace with Christ. I often feel this peace as a calmness, inner tranquility, a feeling of rest. It is difficult to put into worlds but when I have that peace, I feel able to do anything. That’s the peace of Christ. It’s the peace we receive when we are reconciled to God. With the peace I have in Christ I am able to look outside myself. Because I am forgiven I can see a bigger picture of Gods creation and ask him, “How would you have me make a difference today?”
What type of legacy will you leave? One of forgiveness and reconciliation that leads to peace, or one of anger, frustration and separation. Ultimately, our answer lies in Jesus Christ, because it is in his power that we can forgive and move forward in reconciliation and receive peace.