In my last post I promised to explain why the Bible verse John 15:13 is in the front matter of my yet-to-be-published novel, A Stranger’s Promise: “No greater love has anyone than this: that one would lay down his life for his friends.”
Several of my characters are described by that verse, diverting from their immediate plans in order to serve someone else. It was the most fascinating journey, imagining this book’s adventure story that takes a middle-aged empty-nester from Atlanta to the mountains of Tennessee, on a lark, where she makes acquaintance with a handful of mostly nice people living with a bizarre secret buried right under their noses.
Laying down His life for others is, of course, what Jesus did in coming to earth to live and dwell among us. In Sunday School we have just completed a study of Charles H. Spurgeon’s sermons on the Beatitudes. The lessons have been eye-opening, convicting, and inspiring. Jesus, who gave His life for us, commands us to live in a certain way. And we must do so. Here is a partial list of the traits that describe a peacemaker:
Listening. Understanding. Sympathizing.
Giving thanks. Honoring. Blessing. Rejoicing.
Overlooking. Forgiving. Not looking down on others. Not being conceited.
Not standing on your rights. Giving food and drink.
Obeying. Training. Instructing.
Being humble, gentle, patient, and loving.
The complete list is daunting, but who can stop reading it? It draws one in. Please post a comment if you’d like to see the entire list.
Before our teacher Doug Arendall had finished reading the above marks of a peacemaker aloud to us in class, I had determined to get the list and to write each trait on a paper link, making the entire list into a colorful chain for our Christmas tree. And then, when people start talking about New Year’s resolutions, I won’t have to look any further.
My talking about something, no matter how enthusiastically, cannot “make” a chosen topic affect a reader the way I have been affected myself (though every writer dreams of his or her words doing just that). Nevertheless, I must tell you that when I look over that list of actions – actions describing one who has “climbed the Beatitudes ladder” from the lowest rung (recognizing one’s spiritual poverty) – I get tears in my eyes as I think how much I would like to be a person who is maturing into a true peacemaker.