In many ways, the 46th Presidential Inauguration was similar to any other. Pop stars performed songs, a young poet read inspirational words, and President Biden took his oath and was sworn into office. While many of these moments received very positive media attention, however, one guest was given mixed reviews.
Social media commentators were quick to jump on Kamala Harris’ nephew, Nikola Ajagu, who chose to wear Dior Air Jordans to the inauguration. Some believed that this popular athletic shoe wasn’t formal enough for the day’s events, while others pointed out that the designer version was completely appropriate. One thing was certain, though. This guest was playing according to his own rules, and he likely changed the fashion culture of the inauguration forever. Goodbye, hard-soled black shoes. Enter: designer sneakers!
This isn’t the first time that playing by a different set of rules has changed culture. In 1954, a significant rule change was introduced to the game of basketball that would forever alter the sport: the shot clock. The man behind this change believed that forcing players to shoot the basketball within a specific time frame would make the game more exciting. And he was right. Within three years of the implementation of this rule, NBA teams went from scoring an average of 79.5 points per game to over 100 points per game.
What do Air Jordans and the NBA have to do with being a peacemaker, you ask? During this intensely divided political moment, it is more important than ever that Christians recognize the power of introducing a different set of rules to the game.
Over the past year, our nation has experienced heartbreaking disunity. Families and friendships have been torn apart over political affiliations. Differing opinions have led to riots and physical destruction. Unfortunately, many Christians have gotten caught up in an “Us vs. Them” cultural mentality that reflects our nation’s political climate more than the Kingdom of God.
Christians must remember that we are citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20) and ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). First and foremost, our allegiance is to King Jesus and the Kingdom of God! And because of our Kingdom citizenship, we are called to play by a different set of rules.
Rather than getting caught up in the toxic swirl of political strife and relational division, we get to introduce a new set of rules to the game. Rules that can change culture. Rules that can bring true peace to a hurting and fragmented world. As ambassadors for Christ, we are called to be peacemakers!
More importantly, being a peacemaker does not mean standing on the sidelines or being disengaged from what is going on in the world around us. Being a peacemaker is not hiding behind a strong defense or passively sitting back out of fear!
Being a peacemaker is an active posture. We are on the offense – but not to push our own political agendas forward. Christians stay in the game and stay on the offense by carrying true, biblical peace with us wherever we go.
What is biblical peace?
When we hear the word peace in everyday language, we often think about “harmony” or “the absence of war”. But in the Bible, the word “peace” does not simply describe the absence of strife – it also means the presence of something more powerful in its place. True, biblical peace refers to “wholeness” and “restoration.” As a verb, “to bring peace” means to “make complete” or “to restore.”
And this is exactly what Jesus did for us. Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus reconciled us to God and brought restoration to the world. He carried authentic, powerful peace: “Peace I leave to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you” (John 14:27).
And as disciples of Jesus, we are called to follow Jesus’ lead! We are called to be tools of reconciliation that bring people together, creating peace wherever we go.
The primary question we should be asking during this time is not, “Do I agree with your political stance?” Our primary question should be “How do I respond to people who voted differently than me?” If you find yourself in a conversation about politics, lead with peace. This doesn’t mean you cannot have an opinion, but it does mean that your opinion should always come second to your primary goal of being an ambassador for Christ and a peacemaker. Rather than applying quick judgements and getting caught up in the “Us vs. Them” culture, clothe yourself with humility by choosing to look at people through God’s eyes, with unconditional love.
Now more than ever, it is important that we engage the world as peacemakers. Do not forget that you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God and a conduit of peace. I pray that you would move forward with the peace of heaven, unafraid to introduce new rules to the game.
Miles McPherson is the Senior Pastor of the Rock Church in San Diego. He is also a motivational speaker and author. McPherson's latest book “The Third Option” speaks out about the pervasive racial divisions in today’s culture and argues that we must learn to see people not by the color of their skin, but as God sees them—humans created in the image of God.