Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Pastor Dan Haugen
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…
General Douglas MacArthur said back in 1935, “In the last 3400 years only 268 – less than 1 in 13 – have been free from wars.” Well, now we know that since that time, there have been a mere 26 days free from it. Someone once said, “Peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload.” War seems to be what we know, it’s what we’re good at.
And I don’t need to tell you, we currently live in a society full of stress and strife. Anger is more prevalent than love, arguing is more obvious than proper discussion and revenge seems to rule the day. It seems it’s getting harder and harder for people to get along. In the midst of all this, God has called us all to be peacemakers. Looks like another job for the strong.
As we carry on in our discussion of having a Beatitude Attitude, we come to verse nine of Matthew chapter 5, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” I wonder what was going through Jesus’ mind when He spoke these words. Society at that time was much like it is today.
At that time, His people were under the foot of the mighty Romans and most hated them.
In fact, they were looking for a Savior who would save them from their oppression. A member of Christ’s own disciples himself was so against them he was known as a Zealot who thought that no liberation or peace could come from anything but war. Do you think he might have bent Jesus’ ear a time or two?
Yet, even in this atmosphere, the wisdom of Christ concerning peace was shining through. He didn’t let the “Sons of Thunder”, James and John, persuade him that fire should rain down from heaven upon the Samaritans who gave Him a hard time. He didn’t allow His disciple the satisfaction of revenge by cutting off the servant’s ear who was with the group arresting Him. He didn’t even allow His own disappointment to overcome Him unless it was truly warranted. Through it all He was showing that peace can be more effective than war and that love is a much more powerful weapon then hate.
His disciples were everyday people like you and me. Because of this, they would occasionally let their anger get the best of them. Throughout their discipleship, they had to deal with their master being treated as an outcast, a troublemaker, and even a charlatan. They had to witness his arrest, His sham of a trial and His unjustified crucifixion. And through it all, Jesus required them to remain calm, showing love, practicing patience. An almost inhuman expectation.
We have much to learn from the example of Christ who, through love and peace, accomplished more than all the greatest war generals of all time combined. Through the example of Christ, we see the effectiveness of patience and discussion. We see how love can be used to overcome life’s biggest dilemmas. We see how peace can be used to create unity. And we could all use a little more unity couldn’t we.
Seems easy doesn’t it? Just do what Jesus did. Yet we continue to do things our own way hoping that maybe this time our anger and impatience will win out, only to find once again that Jesus might just know what He’s talking about.
So, in this world of storm and strife, how are we very faulty people to become the peacemakers we’ve been called to be? How do we battle through all the divisions, alienations, feuds, aggression and hostilities we witness every day between nations, ethnic groups, gender identities, political parties, cliquish social groups and even churches and families? How can we be instruments of peace?
Well, first we must learn to find the peace within us. We are all made in the likeness of God, therefore we all have the ability for peace. And, of course, this will take some kind of inner strength within us. A kind of Godly strength we seem to be talking a lot about lately. And where do we find the strength that can produce peace out of chaos?
If you notice as we move along in this series, every new beatitude builds off the last. We seek righteousness through mercy, we find mercy within us by being pure in heart and we become pure in heart in part by bringing peace, because purity cannot be achieved through chaos. Each new attitude builds from the last until we have the blueprint of what kind of person Christ is calling us to become.
And all of it takes spiritual strength. A “want to” attitude that overcomes adversity and temptation through a kind of inner-strength provided by the Holy Spirit Himself. To be a promoter of peace does not mean that someone must be weak and passive. Christ promoted peace but no one would call him weak. To do what He did required a kind of strength that goes beyond human understanding.
Through the beatitudes we are taken through a journey towards righteousness, and God’s peace in our hearts and minds is the blessed fruit of those who choose to take this journey with God and see it to the end. God’s peace is given to each disciple of His, until it overflows into every facet of our lives.
Are you living a life that is full of disarray? Then take the journey with Christ to find your peace. Does it seem that every day is filled with turmoil? Then surrender to the one that wants to bring you stillness. Is your life a series of situations colliding with each other? Then trust in the one who promises you tranquility.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in real pain in the world who have not yet been given this good news. Not every hurting or troubled person, family, community or nation automatically recognizes the warmth and security of the peace that Christ is offering. Even worse, some hear the message but openly resist it. They keep thinking the way of the world will save them and it never truly does. They see the peace of God as a threat somehow that will only bring them persecution, so they refuse it in favor of their own self-made remedies that too often lead to destruction.
God wants for you something infinitely better. He offers you a kind of peace that passes human understanding. And, more than that, He asks you, as His children so dearly loved, to pass that peace on to others. Our job, therefore, is to accept that peace in such a way that it becomes who we are. So much so that people can’t help but to sense it from us. So, how can we get there.
First, we must embrace the miracle of life and we do that by embracing the one who gave us life. Life is not a gift to be taken lightly. It is an opportunity to learn and to love in such a way that we become one with our Creator. When we embrace the beauty of life, we can more fully understand the great gift of peace.
As we learn about the life God has created in us we learn how it craves for peace, the peace only God can fully give. When we understand how precious life is, we can more fully appreciate a life in harmony with God’s creation. We all yearn for peace. We all cling to peace. Yet the world tends to fight against it because peace is a Godly thing. That’s why, when we choose to live a godly life, we appreciate more the great gift of Godly peace.
Secondly, we must become more concerned about building bridges then we are in building walls. Peacemakers are never passive in their efforts to bring unity. They search for opportunities to reach out to those whom they have alienated. They recognize that, in Christ, God acted to tear down the walls of sin that caused us to be separated from Him and each other. In Christ those walls were to be transformed from walls to gateways where no locks are found.
That’s still the promise. Peacemakers still strive to restore broken relationships just as God restored the relationship between Himself and the people he so dearly loves. They don’t wait for others to make the first move toward reconciliation. They take the initiative to tear down the walls themselves.
Finally, people of peace are people who promote unity.
If there is one symptom of sin that we see in the world that is more obvious than most, it is seen in our disunity. One group hates another group. No discussion is found unless it contains words of hurt and separation. No reconciliation is found because pride will not allow it.
People of peace don’t talk in terms of “us” and “them.” They talk in terms of one body, one creation, one purpose and one God. All the distinctions we used in the past to justify our disunity and underscore our differences have been made of no consequence. The cross of Christ has taken all of that away.
People of peace understand what Jesus was saying when He prayed to His Father in John 17, “The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22-23)
This is to be the destiny of God’s people of which you and I are so blessed to be counted among. Disunity was never in His plan nor can His plan for our lives succeed with it. We are called as one body to reflect the image and the likeness of the Son of God in much the same way that He is the full visible manifestation of the Father’s glory.
In a world such as ours, there is a great calling for us to be peacemakers. It’s what the sons and daughters of God are called to be. We can answer the call by following His lead and by following His calling, or we can choose the world and all the madness it offers. But to be the children of God, we must follow the ways of the Father. The way of unity, the way of harmony. The way of peace.
Embrace your calling as peacemakers. Strive to make the world, at least your little sliver of it, a place of unity and not division. Receive the inner strength God is offering you to make a Godly difference in the lives who have become tied up in the worldly rope of hatred and division. Tear down the walls of conflict and promote a kind of peace that can only be found in the source of peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Amen.