Great and Unsearchable Things

Things the Lord gives me, and then I write them.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Who are the Blessed Peacemakers?

     Yesterday my husband and I had a brief conversation about what a peacemaker is, referring to Matt. 5:9 from the Beatitudes. I researched it this morning through google, and read some commentaries, then an article which I thought sounded very balanced and right. I am including it on my blog today for your prayerful discernment and convenience below:

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). What is the meaning of these words for us? How does peacemaking affect our witness for Jesus? In a day when much emphasis is being placed on peace, the Christian needs to most seriously contemplate the meaning of this Beatitude.
We must begin with a proper understanding of what is included in this key word. The Greek word for “peace” (“eirene”) is a beautiful word, full of meaning. The word is a picture-word, calling to mind specific mental images when heard. The word means tranquility, and is used to describe a boat sailing on a calm sea. It means harmony and describes a song in which all notes and cords blend in perfect agreement. And it conveys the idea of an absence of strife, calling to mind two people walking hand-in-hand along the road. (Our English word “peace” comes to us from the Latin “pax” from which we derive “pact.” A pact is a treaty between two parties/governments).
The Hebrew equivalent is the word “shalom.” This word is also rich in meaning and was, for the Jew, the common word of greeting. It means all of what the above Greek word means, yet adds another aspect. Not only does shalom convey the negative — the absence of strife and evil — but also the positive, the presence of all good things. To wish shalom on another was in essence to say, “I wish for you not only the absence of all that may harm, but also the presence of everything that makes for a person’s good.”
From the above definitions we see that the word “peace” has to do with the state of harmony, tranquility, and unity as it exists between two parties. However, there are some things that peace does not mean:
a) For some, pursuing peace means evading the issues. Some see peace as simply ignoring that which causes the hostilities among us — a sort of sweep-them-under-the-rug-and-hope-they-go-away approach to problem solving. However ignoring reality is not peace. True peace never evades the issues, but rather deals with them, building the right bridges and moving through the pain until harmony is established.
b) For others, peace is sought at the expense of truth. Peace is paramount and it is “peace at any price.” Most persons want to avoid needless strife, but there are times when standing for the truth will stir up strife. Sometimes the way to lasting peace includes addressing issues which will be painful to work through. Truth and righteousness are just as important as peace, and these factors cannot be compromised. For example, Jude wrote his epistle encouraging the believers “to contend for the faith” (verse 3), an
activity which undoubtedly caused some turmoil. Jesus taught that at times faithful discipleship would place a “sword” between loved ones (Matthew 10:34), indicating that following Him could cause strife. And Paul implies that not all strife can be avoided when one is following Christ (Romans 12:18), although we are to do all that we can to live at peace with everyone.
d) For still others, peace is the essence of the Gospel. The ideal of living at peace with all becomes the thrust of Christianity for certain believers. Peace needs to be seen as a vital part of the Gospel message, but it must be given its rightful place. It is a fruit of the Gospel – a result of experiencing the grace of God (see Romans 5: and Galatians 5:22-23) – not the Gospel itself. Paul outlines for us the essence of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-8.
So then, this is peace — what it is, and what it is not — but what is a peacemaker?
Notice at the start that the promise of this Beatitude is to the “peacemaker” and not to the “peace lover.” Passivity is not the answer; activity is. “Peacemaking” is an action word, implying that the Christian’ is to be busy making peace in this world. There are many who love peace and few who work for it. (It should be noted here that we are not condoning a peace activism which ignores other important biblical principles).
The call to peacemaking implies the presence of contention. Indeed the world today is full of conflict and strife. What is the cause of this hostility? In order to know how to go about establishing peace, we need first to know something about why individuals are at odds with themselves.
James says that evil desires within are the source of conflict (James 4:1-2). People are at war with their neighbors because they are not at peace with themselves. And they are not at peace with themselves because they are at war with God. The heart of the peace issue is the spiritual condition of the human soul. Any peacemaking effort which does not take seriously this truth is at best merely a “truce tactic.”
If the Scriptures teach that the hostilities which exist in the world are results of the strife between God and His creation, then it is logical to believe that it is this aspect of peace which concerns Jesus in the Beatitude. Also, the nature of the Beatitudes is spiritual and personal, not political and global. In light of this fact, biblical peacemakers have a three-fold agenda:
a) First and primarily, Christians are called to lead others into a peaceful relationship with God their Father. This is the basis for peace without which no lasting harmony can be found.
b) Second, the biblical peacemaker works to establish harmonious relationships between individuals and their neighbors, based on their spiritual relationship with Christ, the Prince of Peace.
c) Third and finally, Christians attempt to lead their nations into peaceful co-existence. They must realize however, that this is not their primary calling nor will the effects be long-lasting (see Matthew 24:6). As long as the leaders of nations remain hostile toward the God who made them, they will continue to be hostile toward their global neighbors.

 As Jesus said, there will be hostilities until the end of time (Matthew 24:6-7). Nevertheless what peace can be enjoyed, even if temporary or partial, is better than war. And because lasting peace is only certain when based on conversion to Christ, Christians do not rest content with mere secular peace — but continue to work at introducing individuals to the Messiah who provides a basis for true peace.
Peacemakers are blessed with the title “Sons of God,” for they are manifesting in their ministry a Godlike work. They are living out in their lives a character quality and an aspect of activity which is true of God himself, and being called a "son" indicates a certain degree of maturity of taking the responsibility of one's father, and making it one's own. The Apostle Paul says: God was reconciling the word to himself in Christ, not counting man’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5: 19-21). See also the larger context in 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2, and Ephesians 2:11-22.
This promise–to be called “a son of God”–is perhaps the most significant of all. Sure it is good to be promised the Kingdom of heaven, comfort, inheritance, satisfaction, mercy, and a glimpse of God (as all of the other Beatitudes pledge). But to arrive at the place where one’s life demonstrates the characteristics of God, that is the highest compliment and blessing of all. To be so involved in the lives of others, leading them into peaceful relationships with their God and their neighbors, that one is seen as doing a Godlike work is most certainly the greatest tribute which can be made to our heavenly Father.


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