Blessed are the peacemakers, said Jesus. Becoming a peacemaker starts with finding God’s likeness in yourself and everyone else — and that’s not easy.

I’m a terrible person. 

There’s too much violence and suffering in the world. It would be great if I could somehow find a way to bring peace to the Middle East or end domestic violence. But those are big problems and and I’m just one person.

Realistically, I need to set my sights a little lower.

And so I recognize that becoming a peacemaker isn’t about grand gestures. It’s about the way I live my life day in, day out. It’s about bringing Jesus’ alternative vision of life into my perspectives and the way I interact with the world around me.

So far, so good. Now here’s the problem: When I’m presented with opportunities for peacemaking, my instincts usually run far afield of Jesus’ alternative vision. Too often, my knee-jerk reactions are to:

  • Question motives
  • Assign blame
  • Justify my positions

My shortcomings make me feel like a terrible person. But part of me also knows that my shortcomings just make me a person — an inadequate, incompetent, imperfect, “human becoming” that constantly strives for (but never quite achieves) Jesus’ alternative way of living in the world.

Maybe you can relate.

Becoming a peacemaker starts with finding God’s reflection in yourself and everyone else.

Of course, the good news is that we don’t have to achieve anything to be accepted by God. But that doesn’t mean we should stop making progress toward becoming a peacemaker.

The first step in finding nonviolent resolutions to our conflicts involves mutual respect and the search for common ground.

For Christians, the likeness of God in ourselves and others is the common ground we need to begin peacemaking.

By nurturing a greater awareness of the image and likeness of God in us, we prepare ourselves for the hard work of peacemaking. As we become more conscious of the imago Dei in us, our egos fade into the background, and it becomes easier to set aside our assumptions, judgments and personal biases.

Becoming a peacemaker also means finding the likeness of God in others. Every human being is created in God’s image.

Rich, poor, liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, straight, gay — somehow, every single of one us reflects God.

And it’s in the reflection of God — God’s likeness — that we find the basis for human dignity and respect. Whatever our disagreements, the imago Dei calls us to pursue nonviolent solutions to our conflicts and to respect those who disagree with us.

Is it easy? No. But for most of us, it’s the first step toward becoming a peacemaker.