Toward being a peacemaker – #11 in the Sermon on the Mount Series
Blessed are the peacemakers
According to the Bible, human history began in peace and will end in peace. The middle part has been a little rough.
John Lennon asked us to give peace a chance, but how can we do this? Even if you define peace as the absence of war, humanity does not have a very good track record. According to Will Durant, out of 3421 years of documented history, there were only 268 years without war at the time of his writing. That means that roughly 92.2% of the time, some part of the globe was in open hostility. With the rise of Islamic unrest in the Middle East, this percentage is likely to rise rather than fall. Human history cannot bear out any assertion that man is capable of producing peace, John Lennon notwithstanding.
To be a peacemaker first requires that one be at peace. Even Muddy Waters knows that you can’t give away “what you ain’t never had.” Man has not been at peace since our initial rebellion against God as recorded in Genesis 3. Beginning with that initial rebellion, man has been at war with God, his neighbors, his world and himself. The external conflict is a product of the conflict within. Until that internal conflict is resolved, there is no chance of anything better than a superficial peace.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:1 that the path to peace with God is through Jesus Christ. It is by being justified by faith in Jesus that peace can be obtained. This is the first step to being a peacemaker in the sense that Jesus presents in Matthew 5:9.
In 2 Corinthians 13:11 Paul tells us to “rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Elsewhere Paul tells us to live in peace with one another (1 Thess. 5:13).
If we accept God’s provision in Jesus Christ for fixing the vertical relationship with God, it will then allow us to work on the horizontal relationships with our neighbors. I do not think that it is possible to over emphasize the two Great Commands that Jesus catalogs in Matthew 22:37-40. Love God; love your neighbor. They must be done in that order.
It seems obvious, in light of these verses that a peacemaker cannot be self-focused. I am not at peace with God or my neighbor when I am focused on my wants, my needs or even my rights. A true peacemaker is one who surrenders to God and trusts in him.
A peacemaker is one who is redeemed and justified by faith in Jesus Christ, who is actively developing his relationship with God and who is actively seeking to share that relationship with those around him. A peacemaker is one who takes seriously the call of Jesus to make disciples in Matthew 28:19-20. For it is only as a disciple that I can begin to know peace.
They will be called children of God
By being in relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. We have become sons and daughters and will be treated as such. This verse emphasizes that one of the hallmarks of a son or daughter of God is that he or she will have a legacy of peacemaking. When we are at the end and stand before Jesus, we should be able to hear him point to that legacy as evidence of our relationship with him.
A call to action
Even as I write this, I am convicted that I do not take every opportunity to be a peacemaker that is presented to me. I am often self-focused, insensitive or insecure. To be a peacemaker, I should have a strong desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ with anyone who hasn’t heard it.
Not only does our peacemaking have a passive component, it should have an active component also. Let’s make it active and see what happens to our churches and our communities.