My extended family can get animated very quickly. From the moment we walk into the room with each other, personalities start to fire off in all directions. As long as everything is peaceful, this can be a good thing. There's nothing more fun than an infectious cackle making its way through a room simply at the recollection of an old family memory. It's those family memories that can also make the room smolder with resentment, though. Worse, it can go from cackle to crackle in a moments notice, giving everyone little warning and before you know it, Thanksgiving is as dead as the turkey on the table.
That's where my Grandpa would come in. Ray J would always hold steady. He wasn't the type to get overblown about the little things. Better yet, he didn't hold onto past resentments. It's this type of attitude that saved a lot of our family gatherings. When tense moments started to strike and attitudes started to bubble, Ray J would fly into action. He'd get the person who was starting to get offended to help him with something and he'd send the offender off to do something somewhere else. In those moments alone with the offended he'd casually bring up good stories that often tied the two parties back together. If it were me getting mad at my cousin, he'd tell me stories about how the two of us would get into trouble crabbing with my grandma. By tying me back to my cousin with a positive memory, I was able to reconcile with them before even facing them. I find he was living the scripture in Hebrews:
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Hebrew 12:15)
Another way he showed me peacemaking was how he handled disputes with strangers. A few times I was with him, a person would try to argue with him over a parking space, or a movie rental (back when they had video stores), or some other trivial item. I watched and waited to see Ray J let 'em have it. He was tall and strong and wasn't going to back down from anyone. Instead, I watched as he told the man he could have the space or the video, that there was plenty of other spaces and movies to have and it wasn't worth the argument or the headache. It shocked me to see his relaxed attitude. By the look on a lot of people's faces, usually dumbfounded and a little disappointed they weren't getting to engage in conflict, it shocked them, too. Here, I find he lived out the scripture in Ephesians:
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:6)
Peacemaking By Example
I didn't know it at the time, but Ray J was teaching me the concept of Biblical peacemaking. See, my grandfather could argue and fight with the best of them, but he had learned the importance of peace as he grew older. More importantly, he wanted to impart that to his family. Today, I too look to make peace before issues bubble into strife. I try my best to not let the small things in life get to me, especially with a stranger. After all, if we are the light of the world, then what example could I be if I yell at someone I may one day be a witness to?
Ray J taught me Biblical concepts without having to open the Word. He lived the Word and let it example through his daily actions. Because of his example, I can stand and claim myself as a peacemaker. I only hope that I can pass this concept on to my children and their children.
Pick out a person in your life that has been an example of Biblical peacemaking.
What did they do that exampled peacemaking to you?
How did you receive and implement their peacemaking techniques?
What can you do today to be a better peacemaker because of them?
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.