Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
As I said in previous studies in this series on the Sermon on the Mount, there is a kind of balance or ‘trade’ in these verses . In the first halves are qualities of character. I would say that each of these qualities are such that you would expect to see and to grow in all those who belong to Jesus and who truly love our Lord, wanting to grow closer to Him. And the second half of each verse shows the ‘reward’ for the development of each characteristic.
But, if you have been reading the series so far, you will see that ‘reward’ is not a very accurate term. These are really the natural consequences of developing the characteristics in the first part of each verse. But these are also promises.
In a world as troubled as ours is today, we are more in need of peacemakers than ever before. Certainly those who can achieve an improvement in world peace by political and diplomatic means rightly receive praise. But they are rarely called children of God. And I would say that I doubt that this verse refers to this kind of peacemaking.
Thinking of this troubled world, is it only me who is disgusted at the fact that there is even a missile of war known as the ‘peacemaker’?
But as I said, I don’t think that this verse is necessarily about those who stop or prevent wars through political or diplomatic means. This is something more at a level that each and every one of us can experience – not only the few who exist within the global elite. In fact this is a basic about understanding all of the Beatitudes, that they are words for all of us. So how can you and I be a peacemaker in our daily lives?
I think the answer to that question is huge – there are so many aspects to it! This is yet another area that could take a whole book to answer, and even then some people may understand other things…
But I do think that there is also a shorter answer to this. And, it is about the fact that these characteristics of the Beatitudes are developed over time as Christians grow more mature and develop closer relationships with Jesus.
As you draw closer to Jesus, it affects your life. He does not become more like you, but rather you become more like Him. And the promise of scripture is that ‘greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. So, when you visit another person, or go out shopping, or meet friends in a club, then there should be a confidence that we can take with us. Why? Because the righteousness and goodness that is planted in us as Christians is more powerful and enduring than the love of sinfulness that exists in the world.
I deliberately did not say ‘…should be more powerful…’ because it simply IS more powerful. It is part of the recognising yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ that the apostle Paul talks about many times.
So when you meet other people, whether or not they are Christian, you bring with you the spirit of Christ, indwelling by the Holy Spirit. So are you going to allow yourself to be influenced by the world or by the Holy Spirit living in you? Yes – it is a choice! And if you decide to allow the Lord to be your strength, your guide, and your guardian in every situation, then you will see for yourself that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!
But here is the thing – if you have been growing in all the ways that I have already spoken of in the previous studies, then there will be a natural affect on the world around you. Whether you deliberately wanted it or not. I remember when I was still a teenager and some people did not even know yet that I had given my life to Jesus, yet more than one told me that they could not explain the reason why, but they could no longer blaspheme if they were with me.
Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world!
And what are we told about this inner work? In 2 Timothy we are told that it is not a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control. And how about the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace… Did you know that fruit is NOT designed by God to stay on the tree? What is it there for? Fruit is food to the world and part of the cycle of procreation of that tree. Think about it…
So the fruit of the spirit that exists in your life is to feed the world around you and to procreate – to reproduce itself – in the world around you. If it only stays on the tree, it rots and becomes useless. In the spring I was pruning apple trees. There were some apples from the previous year still on the tree, but shrivelled and rotten – a potential source of disease for the tree. Of course these needed to be removed.
So love and peace is the ‘food’ for those around you in the world. And it has the potential to reproduce itself in their lives. Jesus was not afraid to visit bars and to talk with prostitutes and ‘rough guys’ – because he knew that they were more likely to ‘catch’ what he has than for him to ‘catch’ their problems. And the same is true for us, who have lives committed to Him and who wish to walk closer with Him.
So… in a church fellowship situation will love and peace grow or will dissension and enmity? As I said above, this is a choice. But we can all think of those people we know who will never participate in gossip. Those who never talk bad about others. Those who we feel ‘safe’ next to. Who will speak out for us when someone joins the conversation with criticism or a cutting remark. These are the guys who certainly help to glue a congregation together, to make people feel silly if they gossip those evil remarks.Very often these are the ones who notice hurting relationships and manage to simply bring Jesus and healing into the situation by a quite word, or invitation to share a meal together…
It is hard to talk about the specifics, because this is a quality of character that affects such a wide area of life. And it is a quality that changes the situation around such a person in a positive way. So much so that there are some who I know, even their entrance into a room causes a shift in the ‘spiritual temperature’ towards warmth. And we all have met those with the opposite effect… so much that it is a common figure of speech these days to describe someone as ‘leaving me cold.’
There becomes less and less doubts, to onlookers, of the spiritual life in a person as they grow in Jesus. Peace is certainly one of the leading qualities, and they bring peace into a room simply by walking in. Peace into a relationship by drawing alongside and saying some positive words and spending some time. Peace into an argument simply by their quiet and calm manner – not being caught away by the emotions of a situation. There is something divine going on…
I really feel that I am not doing this justice by what I am sharing here. I am struggling to find ways to describe this. But I know that, when a person is truly growing in their faith and in their closeness to Jesus, the result is certainly to bring peace (even though, as we shall see in another story, there is a greater expectation of spiritual warfare for such a person. A kind of paradox…). And that knowing such a person, people recognise that they have met a child of God – because the meeting affects them and changes them for the better.