By Kevin Wiebe
Are we peace makers or peace fakers? There are times when, instead of doing the hard work of reconciliation and peacemaking, we sweep problems under the rug and equate a lack of outright confrontation with peace. When we fake peace, however, we may prolong the pain of the conflict, preventing the needed resolution because of our unwillingness to be brave and confront what is wrong.
In 1 Corinthians 11:18–19, the apostle Paul writes, “I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.”
The Corinthian church had some major issues, where some people were most certainly in the wrong. Paul reminds them there must be conflicts and divisions, because the people of God ought not to accept everything. By failing to confront the sins in their midst, involving both sexual immorality and the mistreatment of those in poverty, they prolonged the pain of this situation.
While there are many times where our disagreements are about minor disputable matters, other times we remain silent when we shouldn’t. When we ignore clear injustices in our midst or fail to take sin seriously, we make a mockery of our worship.
Most people, however, don’t like to stand up in situations where we have collectively been silent for far too long. None of us wants to be seen as a troublemaker.
There is a fascinating story in 1 Kings 18. There had been a famine in the land through the prophetic ministry of Elijah. After years of this famine, Elijah confronts King Ahab. In verse 17, as Elijah approaches, Ahab says, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” Elijah was called a troublemaker for refusing to accept Ahab’s sinful ways. Elijah responds in verse 18 by saying, “I have not made trouble for Israel…but you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.”
In situations such as this, those who stand up to injustice are often viewed as troublemakers by those who live contrary to God’s ways or by those who prefer a simple lack of conflict to the real peace of God. Make no mistake, however, Elijah was not the troublemaker, but the courageous hero of this story.
So I ask again: are we being peace makers, or peace fakers?