“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
I know one thing today, I have always wanted to be a child of God. I remember first hearing about God and Jesus when I was five years old. And all I could think of was being His, following Him everywhere. I wanted to be His child. But my five year-old mind didn’t understand how to do that. I understood that Jesus loved me immeasureably, but I had no idea how to become His child. And the hard truth that Jesus is telling me and all of us here is that unless I am a peacemaker, He’s not going call me a child of God. And if He doesn’t call me a child of God because He doesn’t consider me one, well then, I’m not a child of God. That is a terrible thought.
What is God’s idea of peace and peacemaking? The word itself is a compound Greek word made up of eirenopoios. Eirene is the peace part and poios is the part about making or doing. This is the Greek word for translating the Hebrew idea of shalom or peace. But the Greek and Hebrew ideas weren’t the same. The Greek idea of peace had to do with temporary absence of war. The Hebrew idea was so much more and had God at the center. It especially focussed on the “end of strife with God.” It wasn’t just about physical and financial well-being, even though that was part of it.
But the New Testament idea of peace takes on an even “deeper sense of salvation”. It’s our state as a believer, where we are “assured of God’s grace and content with God’s authority”. It’s the end of the wrath of God against me through the salvation He has provide by Jesus Christ. And it’s absolutely connected to each of these other things we’ve been learning about, to poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, righteousness, mercy, purity.
Skip Moen states, “God’s peace is independent of outside conditions and is the fruit of an objective, real salvation with God.” Well, that’s great. That’s what I need. But what does it mean for me to be a peacemaker? I mean, none of these other calls to mirroring God in my life have been easy or natural for me. What of this being a peacemaker?
I want to be a peacemaker, but I think this is just hard. This is bringing everything thus far together only now it’s having me apply everything in real life relationship with other fallen people like me. Imagine that, a fallen person choosing to make peace with other fallen people. And the only way I can do that is if I have made peace with God through Jesus Christ. Because if I haven’t, then I won’t understand what Your peace looks like or acts like or is like. Because now You are asking me to be this peacemaker, just like Jesus, the Prince of peace. Like Him, You are asking, no requiring of me, that I give up my own personal harmony, that I give up my own personal tranquility just to put myself at risk for the sake of peace. You are asking me to take risk after risk to myself, to stand in the way of harm to protect someone else, in order that I might be an instrument of ending someone else’s conflict. You are asking me to be ready to be at war for the sake of someone else.
A peacemaker isn’t waiting for peace to come to them. A peacemaker is attempting to usher peace into other’s lives. But before I can usher it in to other’s lives, I have to not be waiting for it. I have to have found it. Then I can engage in the battle for others. And this is really hard because the thing I want most, I therefore have to give up. This is personal here.
What do I want most? I want peace. Sure I want others to have peace. But I want peace. I want peace for me. I want the things that God says I can have and that He wants for me. I want relationships to resemble what God says they should be like. I want believers to act like believers, for believers to look and act and think and be like You, Jesus. I want the lost to want You and to want to be like You. But the truth of the matter, the reality in life, is that this isn’t the way everyone, including myself responds in the real world. And then what? Then how much of a peacemaker am I? It’s one thing when a nonbeliever persecutes me. But what if that persecution comes from someone close, someone who professes to be a believer? What’s my peacemaking like then?
What am I called to give up for others to maintain or bring peace? I’m called to give up all those things that I feel are my rights. I’m called to give up as much as Jesus gave up for me. But I must hold fast to my poverty of spirit. It’s in these times that I become even more of a beggar dependant upon, You, Lord. I must not refrain from mourning and examining my own heart and praying for the heart of the one whom I want to restore to Your and our peace. I must continue in all meekness and rightousness and mercy and purity. I can’t give up any of that, any of Your glory, to regain or restore peace.
If You have already made peace with me, then it is my turn to offer others the opportunity to let You make peace with them. It’s my obligation to walk like You and give up my pride to reach out to them. I must step into the fire I would prefer to avoid. I must pray for those who have hurt me. I must engage with them. I must love them.
And none of this can I do on my own. I can only do this because I am Your child. You have designated me that. Why? Because You have made me to resemble You. I want to resemble You. You have adopted me. And with that adoption I have yielded myself to Your care as my Parent. And in yielding myself to that care, You are forming Your character in me. Which means, I will resemble You in the way I live and treat others and respond in situations. And it’s not that I have called myself this. You are the one who has described me this way. You are the One who is forming Your nature in me. And You see this as I yield to You.
Why must I be a peacemaker? Because “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) God sacrificed His own Son, Jesus, even though we should have been killed for our rebellion. And those who come in faith, find peace, eternal peace, because He made peace first. He had every right to hate every one of us, starting with Adam and Eve. And we think we have the right to hate our enemies. But because He didn’t, we actually don’t have that right either. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.'”(Matthew 5:43-45) Continuing in Matthew 6:9-10 Jesus instructs us to pray. We are to pray that God would be glorified. That’s not just in me. That’s in my neighbor and in my enemy and in me. I’m to pray for His will to be done. That’s not just for me, but in my neighbor’s life and in my enemy’s life. And if I go on there is forgiveness, out and out forgiveness for whoever needs to be forgiven no matter what they’ve done. And there is deliverance. And there is God sanctifying us and making us more and more like Him daily and purifying us.
Yes, You Lord, are going to put people in our lives that make it hard to keep peace. Because I need to be developed by Your hand, molded into a peacemaker like You. You said in Matthew 5, “If you love them that love you, what reward have you? Don’t even the publicans do the same?” What have you gained by loving someone who is easy to love? Has that changed You to be more like Me? Has that taken My hand in Your life? Has that taken Your choice to yield to Me? Does that take a believer to do or can any person do that? Can an unredeemed person act that way naturally? Then how does that glorify Me? Jesus continues, “And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? Don’t the publicans do that also?” Are you going to ignore people because there is a rupture in the relationship? Will you just hang out with those who are in agreement with You? Are you going to nurse your grudges, walk to the other side of the street and ignore the greeting? Is that what the Holy Spirit is leading? Is that how the Holy Spirit makes peace?
Was it easy for You, Jesus, to reconcile Yourself to us on the cross while we were yelling, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”? Was it easy for You, to continue loving Peter when he denied You? Was it easy to love Your disciples when they ran away scared instead of standing by Your side? Then why do I expect to be held to a lesser standard than my Lord and Savior? Romans 12:18 tells me “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all me.” I can attempt to repair my part. Jesus did His tremendous, glorious part. He offered a way to repair the rift. But there are those who will not accept His reparation. I must do my part to repair the rifts around me. But I cannot control whether someone accepts my reparation. But have I truly done my part?
There will never on this earth be a time when an opportunity to repair a breach in a relationship will not arise. I am called to be a peacemaker like Christ. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:18 let’s us know that these opportunities will even arise within the church! “For first of all, when you come together in church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Yes, strife will come, and it’s not by accident. God is using this strife to make us into peacemakers like Himself.
To be honest, I hate this kind of strife, Lord. It tears me up inside. I ache for the return of the right relationship when it is broken. And sometimes, I’m at a loss to what I can do. So, I approach the one I feel estranged from. I try to greet them. I wait hopefully for a moment of restoration. But sometimes, I do avoid. Sometimes I have to let my own pain subside so that I can care more about their pain. And sometimes that takes time. And it takes Your power and surrendering to You to keep me from allowing that seed planted by pain to grow into bitterness. Being a peacemaker is putting my position in You to the test. Am I really Your child? Then I will want the things You want. Am I really Your child? Then no matter my pain, I will want to restore relationships. Am I Your child? Then I will want to be a reconciler. It will be more important than my rights and my pride. It’s not easy but it’s what I’m called to. It’s not easy but it’s who You have made me. It’s the most difficult thing in my life but it’s who I am in You.
The more I love You God, the more I find I have to give up. Your kind of peace isn’t easy. It wasn’t easy for You to bring it to us and it won’t be easy for us either. You said, “Don’t think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I haven’t come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36) First off, establishing our peace with God, that true relationship and relinquishing of all of me and all my belief and beliefs to Him, that sets me at odds with the world. And just doing that can set me at odds with family and friends and especially my enemies. And as I follow the Lord in sharing that peace with them, they may find that even more abrasive than inviting, though I offer with the utmost love. God’s peace is living in His salvation, the salvation in Jesus Christ. He alone is peace and only in Him is our peace found and lived out and fully attained physically and spiritually one day. But the truth is that some won’t accept that kind of peace. John said it well, “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” But here’s the good news about those who seek peace and then choose to let it flow from them to others, “But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
The ones who know the Truth, who know Jesus, must love peace and work for it. Why? Because it’s the outflow of Christ in us. It’s the evidence of God manifesting Himself and His workmanship in us. He is doing this work and we are living in His work, in His way. I pray for my enemies because I have the mind and heart of Christ and He prayed for me when I was His enemy. He did good for me when I was not good to Him. He greeted me along the way. He came to me first. He loved me first. He longed for the barrier of sin between me and Him to be broken down. He longed for the broken relationship to be restored. And He always did it according to His allegiance to God and His allegiance to His word no matter what kind of animosity it brought down on Himself. I mean, He would speak the truth and people would grind their teeth and want to stone Him. But their response didn’t matter. He was right. He was in the middle of God’s will. He was God’s peacemaker doing what He was called to do, being Jesus to the world whether they hated or loved Him, whether they received Him or not. And as the Father has sent Jesus, so Jesus is sending us.
I have to remember that “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Children of God resemble their Father. They act and look and think like Jesus. And I must never give up purity for peace. There is no compromise. This is peace God’s way, not man’s. Jesus turned our idea of peace upside down. When confronted with Rome’s injustice and the killing of “innocent” Jews, He turned the bitterness around and used it to demand “personal, individual repentance”. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish!” In other words, “Unless you seek My peace first, you’re lost.” “For Jesus the eternal destiny of a human soul is a weightier matter, a bigger issue, than the temporal destiny of a nation.” (Precept Austin) I can come to Jesus not wanting to pay taxes to Tiberias Caesar, my Roman overlord, and pose it like a question about God’s will. He’ll turn it into a “personal command aimed right at [my] own heart: ‘You give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s'” (Matthew 22:15-21) Maybe my brother is not being just. He’s being unfair with dividing our inheritance. Jesus will warn my conscience instead, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?…Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:13-15)
God’s peace turns the world upside down. If it’s not turning my own personal world upside down, maybe I’m not understanding His peace. But if my world is being turned upside down, if some people are beginning to call me foolish and get upset with me and yet God is still pleased, well then maybe I’m starting to understand His kind of peace. Isn’t that funny? I’m called to be a peacemaker, yet in being one, it will often cause strife in others and strife for me. Those who surrender to God’s peacemaking and let Him change their beliefs will become peacemakers themselves. But those who have their own beliefs and want to keep following them, will fight, and taunt, and jest, and ridicule.
But Christ, “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of two one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached to you which were afar off, and to them that were near.” (Ephesians 2:15-17) Therefore, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Romans 14:19) Why? Because it’s what Jesus did for us. And because it’s an evidence, a manifestation of what He is continually doing in us. “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:18) Lord, I want to resemble You. I don’t want to just call myself a child of God, I want to be one. I want You to look at me and say, “Hey, see that one there? That’s my child. See the resemblence?” So, no matter what it takes, teach me to be a peacemaker like You. Let me be willing to make peace no matter the cost, because You are worth it.