All we are saying…is give peace a chance. No no no no no. Cut. Stop the song. Shut it down. That doesn’t seem to be enough. We can’t just give peace a chance, we have to work hard to make it a priority, to make it happen, to create it.
We are into the 7th simple line Jesus shared on a hillside. Matthew 5. The sermon on the mount.
Line #7 is ground breaking stuff:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
We could say that this beatitude is most important today – in 2018. But…I’m pretty sure every generation could say this about their time on earth.
We like to compare moments in time with former parts of history, and the truth is, no matter what day or age you’ve been graced or cursed to live in, Peace was and is in high demand.
Peace is like the light, you don’t miss it until it’s gone, and when it’s gone you are desperate to find it again.
Like we’ve asked every week, let’s do so again – Jesus, what are you trying to say to us?
Let’s say this first, “Jesus views power and greatness, not as dominance, but as peace.” (B.McLaren)
How do we know this? For one thing, looking at the context of the 1st century, Caesar commanded people to kill their enemies, Jesus commands us to love them. (Matthew 5:43)
Alright, let’s dig in…there are 2 parts to this profound beatitude we need to understand: Peace Maker, Children of God.
Notice from the start that Jesus isn’t saying that we are blessed when we’re at peace…or…blessed are the peaceful?
Nothing wrong with being at peace; and the scripture does talk about a peace that is beyond understanding. So yes, Jesus is our peace. He is the prince of peace. He gives us peace. Such an amazing peace that we don’t even understand how amazing the peace is.
But this is not what Jesus is saying here. He of course, takes it a step further…or a leap further. Jesus says…Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS.
Blessed are the…creators of peace, those who work towards peace, the strategists of peace, the designers, illustrators, builders of PEACE.
That’s a job title if I ever heard one. Imagine that was on your business card? How would you define that? How would you describe that? I make peace. I manufacture peace. We produce peace. What kind of $ value would be put on that?
But what is Peace? In its simplest of forms? What does the scripture say peace is?
We read this in Ephesians 2:14-17…
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
– Bringing people together.
– Taking 2 divided parts and making them 1.
– Destroying a barrier, a dividing wall.
That’s it? That’s all?
So easy to say. So hard to do.
What does it require from us?
- To do something
- To be creative
- To love
- To build bridges
- To stay in one place long enough to make a difference
- To sit with people, eat with people, cry with people, listen to people, understand each side
Peace, requires all of the Beatitudes up to this point: a poor spirit, a grieving heart, a meek character, a merciful attitude, a hungry & pure heart…
All of these prepare us to be what? Peace Makers.
Bonhoeffer said, “You must not only have peace, you must make it”
What a gift this is to the world – Engineers, Builders, Architects, Developers…of PEACE.
Now…listen to what Jesus says next?
2) Children of God
…and you will be called children of God…
This is where things get cool.
What do children of God look like? Peacemakers.
Who are peacemakers the children of? God.
Doesn’t this sound very much like what Jesus said in John 13:35?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So…the world will know that we follow Jesus by? How loud we sing at church? How well we pray in public? How many verses we’ve memorized?
Nope. It’s how you love one another.
And how will the world know that we are children of God? What reflects our family ties? How do they know who my Dad is?
The evidence is this: God’s children are in the business of making peace. You could say…that is our family business.
I was showing off my family to some people I recently met in a trip to Nicaragua…a few things they said were:
One, your wife looks a lot younger than you! (yes she does) and two, your kids look a lot like you!
YES!!! They do!!! And they act like me too. They got my whit and my sarcasm, and my quick comebacks baby…and they got their mom’s heart and her mind. The point? You know they are our kids!!!
Jesus says, you’re not only blessed if you make peace, you also look a lot like him in the process.
“There is no more godly work in the world then peacemaking.” (godly = like God)
If we are part of God’s family, then you likely reflect your Father’s character. God is PEACE. Jesus is PEACE. Shalom (Hebrew for peace) runs in the family. What is Shalom? It is a kind of wholeness, nothing missing, nothing broken, everything in its place between us and God, us and each other, us and the world.
Understand, it’s hard work to make peace. Peace making will cost us something. Why? Because it’s not simply enough to keep peace, but to make peace. Notice that the next and final Beatitude is referring to persecution. They normally go hand in hand. Ask any one who’s given their life to peace, they have scars to prove it. Not because of any violence they’ve done, but because of violence that has been done to them.
But remember, peace is the opposite of violence, the opposite of hate, the opposite of death, the opposite of brokenness.
MLK said these very powerful words…
“Through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murderer…you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth…you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness can’t put out hate, only light can.”
We all have one common enemy? Darkness: that darkness drives a wedge between us.
Jesus is saying that our mission, if you choose to except it, is to fight against darkness, not each other. Then we’ll be blessed. Then we’ll know who we really are.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” (the message)
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small(er) groups discussion:
What’s the first thing that coms to mind when you hear the word peace?
Jesus makes a distinction between being a person of peace and being a maker of peace? How are both important when it comes to being a person of faith in Jesus? Why the distinction?
What kind of struggles, difficulties or obstacles come with making peace?
What is needed to make peace?
Notice that the next Beatitude is about persecution? Any connection?
Looks like if we want to be called children of God, making peace is not optional? What do you think about Jesus’ connection to peace & belonging to God’s family? What excites you about this? Any questions surrounding this?
Take some time to be creative about peace making…and then pray for peace in our homes, our schools, our churches, our relationships, and in our world.