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Peacemaker vs peacekeeper: Which one should Christians be?

Herbie Newell
Herbie Newell is the President and Executive Director of Lifeline Children’s Services and its ministry arms including (un)adopted, Crossings, Families Count and Lifeline Village. |

This is what we know after the 2020 US election: the results of the race for President stand in limbo; political camps are more polarized than ever; the balance of power in the Senate may not be known until 2021; and the country is fractured by deep division. The importance of the sanctity of life was squarely on the ballots in the form of contrasting positions on abortion, economic and social policies, racial justice, and the response to Covid-19.

This year will most assuredly be labeled in history books as the year of “uncertainty.” In the midst of these turbulent times, the Lord Jesus’ message to his Church remains that the world will know us by our love. (John 13:35)

The church can neither become divided nor lack certainty in the task ahead of us and succumb to differences in policies, politics, or even the methods we use to forge ahead. Our unity doesn’t come by ignoring or denying our disagreements; it comes by joining together for the one common mission and purpose that is greater than our disagreements.

Jesus was not a peacekeeper. He never feared telling the hypocritical Pharisees the truth. He never pretended that differences didn’t exist among his most sincere followers. Jesus sought to bring understanding and reconciliation through the united mission of the gospel.

There is a mammoth difference between being a peacemaker and a peacekeeper. Peacekeepers simply want to keep the peace and disguise true differences with fake unity, while true peacemakers act to unify people around a common mission more powerful than lesser differences. Peacemakers unite us without denying the differences that can make us stronger, not weaker.

Peter, a devoted disciple known for speaking his mind, most probably had various conflicts with Matthew, a tax collector who was also a disciple. However, in spite of their differences, both men accomplished much for the flourishing of the gospel. Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways on their 3rd missionary journey over a strong difference of opinion regarding John Mark; yet both men forged ahead with gospel proclamation.

Beloved, God’s Word tells us that we have been adopted into God's family and that we are His children. The mission that defines our family beckons us to seek gospel reconciliation in a broken world. The Lord adopted us knowing that we have no ability to ever repay Him for His inexpressible gift of adopting grace. However, we often treat our interactions with the world and the vulnerable of the world more like a business deal and less like a mission. Too often we are guilty of acting as though we believe if we give, we should receive something in return.

Giving of ourselves freely and generously is a representation of the grace that we have been given through Christ Jesus.

November 2020 is not only an election month in the United States, it is also National Adoption Month. This is a time when we celebrate the strong heritage of adoption in our country, a heritage which has helped so many children with whom we share no ethnic or familial heritage. November is a month in which we celebrate how the Church has united together for orphans, vulnerable children, and children in foster care, expecting nothing in return.

Ultimately, it is not the responsibility of governments to care for children; it’s not the responsibility of the elite; it’s not even the responsibility of humanitarians. The command to care for vulnerable children is given by God directly to His redeemed people.

Clearly, God tells His people through the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 1:16-17) to take their eyes off themselves and to cease doing evil; however, God isn’t finished. The Lord gives them a charge to replace their evil and selfish deeds. They are to seek justice, do good for the vulnerable, and defend the fatherless.

Likewise, the prophet Micah says in Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

These verses are only the beginning. The command to care for orphans, the vulnerable, the stranger, and the widow are echoed throughout the Old Testament, as God continually reminds his people, “I redeemed you from slavery for My glory and for My name. You show people to whom you belong by your action.”

The only commands of God that we actually demonstrate that we believe are those that we obey. We show our allegiance to the Lord through our participation in His work. We weren't given the Bible simply to read and study. We were given the Bible to put it into action. Faith without works is dead. Our study and reading compel us to action and conform us to the image of Christ.

The Word of God is chock full of imperatives regarding gospel-driven justice for the orphan and vulnerable. Gospel-centered justice is utterly pro-life. When we show the gospel to vulnerable children and their families, we are showing them that we truly believe that all life bears the image of a Creator. Can you really call yourself pro-life if you decry abortion but turn a blind eye to those who have chosen life and are struggling?

As we celebrate National Adoption Month 2020 at Lifeline Children’s Services, we do so with full knowledge that many families have answered the call to foster or adopt with the expectation of nothing in return. We know that many times parenting, especially as a foster and adoptive parent, is a thankless job, but it is one we do out of abundant love for children and for Christ. This parenting journey can be lonely, difficult, and demanding, especially when your child comes from a past of trauma, abuse, or neglect.

While we acknowledge the struggle, Lifeline wants to come alongside families to provide resources that will aid and support families on this lifelong journey of adoption. If you or a family you know needs coaching from a gospel trained social worker, education services from trained professionals, counseling from trauma informed Biblical counselors, or needs the intervention of the local church, please contact us today because we stand ready to support children and families for a lifetime.

Herbie Newell (MBA, Samford University) is the President and Executive Director of Lifeline Children’s Services and its ministry arms including (un)adopted, Crossings, Families Count and Lifeline Village. Under Newell’s leadership, Lifeline has significantly increased its international and statewide outreach, attained membership with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and achieved international accreditation under The Hague Treaty, begun an extensive foster care ministry, and started its (un)adopted strategic orphan care ministries in more than 10 countries. Herbie speaks nationally at conferences and events, and regularly preaches throughout the world on gospel-driven justice. He and his wife, Ashley, live in Birmingham, Alabama and are parents to a son, Caleb, and daughters Adelynn and Emily. His first book Image Bearers: Shifting from Pro-Birth to Pro-Life, released on January 21, 2020.

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