BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS?
For the last few years I've watched our society become increasingly divisive, and in the midst of it all there's this sentence I keep coming back to.
"BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS."
I don't have a complete grasp on why Jesus added that to his sermon on the mount. Was he trying to get people to understand that his kingdom wasn't like an earthly kingdom - full of violence? Was he speaking specifically to the audience in attendance, or was that sentence more for us today?
I don't truly understand, but as I was mapping out my content for this month I thought, "People are constantly arguing, and they need to remember that Jesus wants us to be peacemakers!" So I set out to tell you all the reasons why you should quit arguing and seek peace.
Then I opened my Bible, and boy did I get more than I bargained for.
Let me just prep you. Being a peacemaker, in Biblical terms, is different than what you may think.
What I'm going to do is just take you down the rabbit trail I found myself on as I attempted to get a proper grasp on peacemaking. Hopefully, it'll make as much sense to you as it did to me.
The first thing I did was look up a group of verses that include the words peace, peaceful, and/or peacemaking. Here's some of what I found.
"FOR WHEREVER THERE IS JEALOUSY AND SELFISH AMBITION, THERE YOU WILL FIND DISORDER AND EVIL OF EVERY KIND. BUT THE WISDOM FROM ABOVE IS FIRST OF ALL PURE. IT IS ALSO PEACE LOVING, GENTLE AT ALL TIMES, AND WILLING TO YIELD TO OTHERS. IT IS FULL OF MERCY AND GOOD DEEDS... AND THOSE WHO ARE PEACEMAKERS WILL PLANT SEEDS OF PEACE AND REAP A HARVEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS." James 3:16-18
Peacemakers "plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness?"
I had never considered before that the main goal of a peacemaker should be to bring about God's righteousness. I always just assumed that peacemaking meant to keep arguments at bay.
Ok tuck that info away as we look at the next verse.
"I URGE YOU, FIRST OF ALL, TO PRAY FOR ALL PEOPLE. ASK GOD TO HELP THEM; INTERCEDE ON THEIR BEHALF, AND GIVE THANKS FOR THEM. PRAY THIS WAY FOR KINGS AND ALL WHO ARE IN AUTHORITY SO THAT WE CAN LIVE PEACEFUL AND QUIET LIVES MARKED BY GODLINESS AND DIGNITY. THIS IS GOOD AND PLEASES GOD OUR SAVIOR, WHO WANTS EVERYONE TO BE SAVED AND TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH." 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Peaceful lives are linked with salvation and truth. Like, when we're peaceful it helps people to know God via Jesus. Hmm... I'd never really considered that before.
At this point my wheels start turning. Blessed are the peacemakers... Blessed are the peacemakers... I don't think this means being a peer mediator anymore. I think what Jesus is saying is, "Blessed are the ones that help others understand the gospel."
And then all of a sudden it hits me. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. And we all know that he was, at times, not super "peaceful." His sinless life wasn't void of disagreement, the way I would have described a peacemaker before. But his life brought ultimate peace to the world - peace between God and man!
And then tonight as I was putting the kids to bed we were reading Acts 6 and 7. In these chapters we read about a man named Stephen, who like Jesus was wrongly arrested and put on trial. At his trial he stood up and preached an incredible sermon to his accusers. He wasn't disrespectful or combative, but he said some things that were definitely offensive.
The point, however, was not to hurt their feelings and to put them in their place. Stephen was trying to get his accusers to understand that Jesus is the Messiah and that they need to put their faith in him. Stephen was speaking out of love.
Do you know what happened? Just like Jesus they killed him. And just like Jesus, as Stephen was being murdered he prayed for his accusers.
We know "blessed are the peacemakers," but that statement is incomplete.
"BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, FOR THEY WILL BE CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD." Matthew 5:9
If we want to be called children of God, then we need to be peacemakers. Not peacemakers in the peer-mediator sense, though that is part of it. We, like Stephen, need to have a heart to see people come into a relationship with the Prince of Peace. We need to be willing to speak the truth, not motivated by selfish ambition, knowing that in the end we'll reap a harvest of righteousness.
Because really, what else matters?