Work for peace

It’s painful to see how deeply divided our country and our world are. Sometimes the sports world isn’t much better. Ugly disputes and fights take place between teams and within teams. Coaches snipe at each other in the media. Players are quick to get offended and hold grudges over slights, whether real or perceived.

In the face of conflict and division, we who live under Jesus’ reign as our King are to be different. As we continue these devotions on the “Beatitudes” portion of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, listen to what Jesus says next: “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).

When Jesus speaks of peace, he’s talking about more than the absence of conflict. Jesus is pointing to the presence of reconciliation. Those who work for peace experience in deeper ways the blessing of what it means to be children of God. Why? Because we’re pursuing what our Heavenly Father desires for us and makes possible for us: reconciliation. According to Colossians 1:20, “through [Jesus] God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”

Through Christ’s death on the cross to pay the penalty we deserve for our sin against God, he made a way for us to be reconciled to God. Here’s how Ephesians 2:13-14 puts it: “Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us.” When we place our faith in Jesus and come under his reign as our King, we have peace with God now and for all eternity.

As those who have been reconciled to God, how do we now work for peace, including in how we coach?

1. Promote peace with God. Live and coach with the conviction that what every person needs is not merely to “just get along” or “coexist.” The deepest need of each player, fellow coach, and anyone else in your sphere of influence is to be rescued by Jesus from their separation from God. They need to know the good news that they can have peace with God through Christ. With your actions and your words, point people to Jesus.

2. Promote peace with one another. There will be times when you experience conflict, whether with a player, fellow coach, parent, or administrator. As one who has been reconciled to God through Christ’s costly sacrifice, pursue reconciliation with others. Be willing to pay the cost required, such as the cost of admitting you were wrong and humbly asking for forgiveness, or the cost of letting go of the desire to be seen as “right,” or some other cost. As you pursue reconciliation with others, you’re modeling to those in your sphere of influence what it means to work for peace. And you’re pointing them to Jesus.

Coach, as one who lives under the loving and gracious reign of the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), be a channel of his peace to others. When you placed your faith in Jesus, you were brought near to God and adopted into the family of God. Experience more fully the incredible blessing of being a child of God through working for his peace in this deeply divided world.

For reflection: Thank God that through Christ you have been reconciled to him and have peace with him. Consider specific situations you’re currently facing in which you need to work for peace. Ask the Lord for his wisdom and grace so that you can promote peace in these situations.