Jesus of Nazareth preached to the crowds: “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” From this we can see that both Jesus and God the Father esteem those who diffuse tension and bring understanding between conflicting people or groups.
On another occasion, Jesus told us “you have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
Make no mistake about it, we certainly recognize on a personal as well as a national level that peace is not a state so desirable that no sacrifice is too great to achieve it. There are more important things than peace. We cannot sacrifice truth to obtain it.
One of my professors put it this way: turning the other cheek is not a prescription for how to respond when children are being murdered, it is an example of how we should respond when our honor is called into question.
And we, like all peoples throughout history, certainly do value our honor.
Yes, Jesus acknowledge that His message would at times result not in peace but the sword. He even acknowledged that family members would turn on each other because of Him (Matthew 10:34-36). But His word makes it clear that we must do all that we possibly can to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18).
This would include, as already mentioned, responding with dignity and nonviolence rather than retaliation when out honor is challenged. It would also include being wise about when, where, and how we share the truth. Consider these Biblical principles for dealing with conflict:
The way in which a truth is spoken can affect how it is received: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Our speech should never be lacking in grace: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6)
Sometimes it is best to say nothing at all: “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7)
Even a friendly “good morning” does more harm than good when poorly timed: “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him.” (Proverbs 27:14)
May it be the prayer of all Christians that we can speak the truth in love. To sacrifice truth is to misrepresent Christ to ourselves. To sacrifice love is to misrepresent Christ to those we would seek to persuade.