Back in 2001 my high school concert choir started work on a piece called “Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace.” The original text is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, and is a prayer to God. In it, we ask God to use us as channels of His work.
The song quickly became of my favorites that I sang in the MLS Concert Choir – after all, it greatly featured the alto section! But the words stuck in my mind, especially because while I’d never heard them before that year, I can’t stop hearing them now.
If we were to look at this prayer with a law-gospel mindset, the prayer would probably end up on the chopping block. There is no mention of Jesus Christ and His saving work for our sins. Instead, it focuses on showing God’s love through how we act to others.
So can we as Christians use this prayer? Absolutely! When we sing these words as Christian women and men, we are asking God to have us reflect His love on others. The only way we can do that is if we already have that forgiveness of sins in our heart, brought to us through the Holy Spirit. When we do have that forgiveness, it’s all we can do not to shout it from the mountaintops and make sure everyone can hear it!
The prayer is a reminder to us that we want to reflect Jesus’ love through our actions. We bring light when we smile at strangers. We show love when we “like” or “share” positive Facebook messages instead of critical or inconsiderate ones. When things seem hopeless for a friend or colleague, we come in with messages of our Eternal Hope and invitations to hear that message further. And when a family member is crumbling, we don’t insult them or tell them to “get over it”; instead, we console and are that loving arm to help them up.
In this new year, we have already seen so many examples of a world divided and refusing to cooperate; of people who insult others’ beliefs and stances without seeking to understand; of children reflecting the unkind behaviors of their parents simply because they don’t know any better. May we pray this prayer, and be reminded of how we can reflect God’s love with words of kindness and understanding. Think about it: when we show kindness and understanding to our enemies now, aren’t they even more likely to be receptive of that message of God’s forgiveness later?
Let us thank God for the forgiveness He has given us through His Son. Then let us ask Him for the right way to reflect His love to all people here on earth.
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.