“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
Peacemaking is central to our walk as Christians. So how can we effectively bring peace amidst deep racial divides, injustice, and age-old conflict?
Jer Swigart is co-founder of the Global Immersion Project and he believes that peacemaking is possible, but we need to change our current approach to ongoing issues around the globe. Jer refers to a four-practice framework for everyday peacemaking: see, immerse, contend, restore.
“Rather than see, immerse, contend, and restore, we have a habit of noticing, diagnosing, solving, and walking away…much to the chagrin of the marginalized and the oppressed. Oftentimes, when we notice, diagnose, solve, and walk away, we’ve actually left more problems than before we noticed.”
Jer encourages us to take a step back and see the humanity, dignity and image of God in everyone.
“To see, actually causes us to immerse; to actually see in more vivid detail. We can become people who from a distance can learn how to see. We’re remarkably innovative, even in our kingdom work we’re remarkably innovative, and we want to go from see to contend.”
He explains why the immerse practice is the hardest practice to wrap our heads around.
“The immerse piece is the hard one because it’s inconvenient, it’s inefficient, and it takes time. It means, if you think about the story of the Good Samaritan, it means that you get blood on your shoes, you get the muck of humanity on your fingernails, you have to listen longer than feels comfortable, you have to show up as a learner for a long time.”
It’s important for us to follow Jesus’ example as we seek to be an instrument of peace.
“When God put on flesh in Jesus, Jesus was in the neighborhood for 30 years before he did anything. Maybe we can learn something from his patience in incarnation to actually engage this practice of immerse.”
We also need to be willing to gain understanding, rather than trying to be understood. Jer expands,
“It’s not until you’ve immersed that you actually understand what it means to contend. Then the great surprise is that the contending is not a hero-based doing for someone, contending is a participation with God and with the marginalized, in beginning to actually co-create a restored future. So you can’t contend until you’re first immersed.”
By taking a new approach, we can answer our call to become peacemakers and bring restoration to a broken world.
Jer Swigart is a faith leader, a social innovator, and the Co-Founding Director of a peacemaking training organization called The Global Immersion Project. He is co-author of the book Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World. For more information, please visit his website.The art of peacemaking