Is there anyone who does not desire peace always and everywhere? There may be a few, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. Civilized people do want peace, along with justice and dignity for all persons.
Now, in the holiday season of a year filled with more than its share of violence, we have reason to reflect on what it takes to make peace.
A bad approach to making peace is to try to do it without being a true friend and a trusted confidant of both sides in the conflict. This is a guaranteed method for becoming part of the problem rather than part of the solution. It is an easy method to follow. We do not have to know much. We do not have to be very patient. We do not have to talk at length with people we don't agree with. Sorting out the ethics of the situation seems obvious. We can work hard for our side and feel like we are part of an important movement. In the end, we achieve disaster, but we can blame it on someone else and move on.
Irony aside, becoming a true friend of both sides in a conflict may turn out to be the hardest thing in the world. It may also turn out to be the most important thing in the world.
Consider, at this holiday season, what is happening in the Holy Land between Israel and its Palestinian Arab neighbors. This surely is one of the most intractable and dangerous conflicts of modern times. On one hand, achieving cease-fire in the region seems to be relatively easy: It has been done hundreds of times! On the other hand, we do not see stable, lasting peace. We need more true friends and trusted confidants of both sides to make a space for that peace.
What many of us find disturbing is a trend in some American churches to adopt ever more partisan positions regarding Israel and its neighbors.
These churches cannot become peacemakers by doing this, however "just" the cause. In fact, by favoring one side or the other, these churches may make the situation worse.
We encourage you to find out what your own church is saying on the issue of peace in the Holy Land. You may be unpleasantly surprised. What you may find is that peacemakers are more blessed than ever, because there are never enough of them, and the need keeps growing.