Pastor Phyl began his sermon by quoting an Elton John song. “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”. It can be difficult to admit when we’re wrong and have made a mistake. It is even harder to humble ourselves and apologise in order that we can make up when we’ve upset someone. We don’t always have to say “Sorry”. In fact, this word is not mentioned in the Bible, but instead, we are called to be “peacemakers”. Jesus doesn’t say that we must keep the peace; He gives us a far more proactive command. We must make peace.
Matthew 5:9 says: “Blessed are the peacemakers”. Here, He is telling us that even when we are in the right, and others are in the wrong, we still have to forgive and make peace with them. Jesus doesn’t talk of peacekeeping, but of peace making; an act that can only be accomplished with true forgiveness.
We often, in our lives speak apologetically, but we must be careful to not back track, if we really mean it because people can perceive that we are being insincere. The truth is, that if we forgive, we become like Jesus, and Jesus always says what He means, and speaks with conviction.
Pastor Phyl went on to say that there are three practical steps we can take in order to make peace. Nowadays, there are different words for making peace: we might ‘say sorry’, or ‘conflict resolutions’, but in reality, the three practical steps outlined in scripture can be applied to any situation we might come up against.
In all of this, we must remember that forgiveness is key. In Luke 23:34, Jesus says “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Whilst being totally and utterly wronged; put in a position where it would be totally understandable if He had called down the angels to destroy man, Jesus simply pleads with the Father for forgiveness for the very people who are responsible for His torture. He intercedes for them (and us) in the ultimate act of forgiveness.
The first step that Pastor Phyl speaks about is outlined in Matthew 18:15. If someone has offended us, we must go to that person alone and speak to them directly (not via text or email), and explain the way we have been made to feel. We must explain to the person, because if we don’t, then they don’t know and won’t have the opportunity to fix it.
Secondly, if the issue has not been resolved after taking the actions in step one, then we must follow Matthew 18:16. If the person won’t listen and take care of the issue, then we must take a couple of people with us as witnesses, but we must always seek to make peace.
If this also doesn’t work, and the person still refuses to listen, we turn to Matthew 18:17, and bring the issue to the leader of the organisation, or a person who has authority, and share with them the issue in the hopes that things may be resolved.
In closing, Pastor Phyl said that if we are to take nothing else away from this sermon, then we are to take away two key phrases that might be able to help us to become peace makers.
Firstly, a quote by Bill Hybels:
“Can you help me understand?”
and secondly, a quote by Brene Brown:
“The story I am telling myself is..”
These phrases can help us to diffuse a situation and allow us to make peace with someone we feel may have wronged us. The truth is that we are called to be peace makers and to make amends with people whom we feel have wronged us.
Scriptures: Matthew 5:9, Luke 23:34, Matthew 18:15-17