Peacemakers

Matthew 5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

What a great topic for us to talk about this morning. Peace! Who doesn’t want more peace in life? And if peace is desirable then aren’t you glad you are here this morning to learn more about it? Jesus does not just say blessed are those who have peace but blessed are the peacemakers!

What is a peacemaker? One commentator says this, “Peacemaking is the work of reconciling two alienated parties, of taking two enemies and bringing them into a relationship of unity and harmony.”

So peacemaking is not just stopping a war but it is starting a relationship of unity and harmony. Many wars have been stopped throughout history while both parties remain at odds with one another. Peacemaking is more than that.

Peacemaking for the Christian has its roots in the peace we have been given through Christ with the Father. God is the chief peacemaker. God is the One who demonstrates the most radical peace available. I say that because our nature, as humans, our fallen nature is about as far from God’s holiness as is possible. What is normal would be that they repel one another. Our nature and God’s nature ought to repel one another to opposite ends of the universe. In the bible God makes it clear that we were the enemy, His enemy. That is a scary thought, or it ought to be, that is to consider where we were, who we were before we believed.

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Ephesians 2:3 …and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But what did God do? What did He do for His chosen children? He brought them, us, peace!

Ephesians 2:5 …by grace you have been saved, and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…

He brought us peace, He gave us peace, he made us a seat in the heavenly places. We aren’t just former enemies; He has made us His children!

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

As His children, not just former enemies, as His Children, a family member with God, we will dine at His table, not in fear but in peace!

Matthew 26:29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

Revelation 19:9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

This peace came, of course, peace between us and the Father, this peace came at great cost, not cost to us but cost to Him, cost to our Savior.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This peace for us with God came through the murder, suffering, and bleeding of our Savior; it came to us at the cost of the life of Christ, as He paid our price, as he died for our sins. Peace with God did not come easily nor was it cheap. It came at a price, but it did come for us.

When Jesus said “It is finished,” when He breathed His last, our peace with God was secure, we can now have peace with God. We are no longer as those on the outside but are those whom He brought near as we read about in Ephesians 3! God is a peacemaker. It is no wonder then that He would call us to be peacemakers as well. If we are to glorify Him, represent Him, be His image bearers on this earth, then we too are to be peacemakers for His glory! We who have received peace from God ought to be about making peace with others in this world. And to that we have been called.

It is no wonder if we think about it that way – that is…God is the great peacemaker and so His offspring, you and me, ought to be like Him to image Him like a child images his parent, that we should also be peacemakers. As others hear about God bringing peace in relationship with His children and see us encouraging peace, we will look more like Him; others may say yes, I can see that, they are imaging the father, they must be sons of God.

Having then received Peace with God as his dear child, in what sense are we to become peacemakers? Well, we can look at this in two ways. First we can think of peacemaking in relation to our personal relationship with others, and secondly we can think about being a third party in peacemaking. The first one is very personal because we are the ones living in conflict with another. The second may not seem as personal because it is about two other people or groups of people in conflict and can come in and be a party in the peacemaking process.

Ken Sande, with whom many of you will be familiar, has written a book about peacemaking in the Christian sense. It is a very helpful book and I recommend it to you. I really like what he says about peacemakers in the introduction of his book. “Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring His love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life. God delights to breathe His grace through peacemakers and use them to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice, and encourage repentance and reconciliation.”

Don’t you want people like that around you? People who breathe grace, who continually draw on the goodness and power of Jesus, who bring the love of Christ with them in His love, mercy and forgiveness to daily life! I want people like that around me. He is describing those who are living in Christ, loving Christ, and who are being matured to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. These are peacemakers!

Who are these people who exhibit such grace? Well, it is interesting to me to see the intertwining of many of these beatitudes. Many of them flow together very easily, I mean in a sense they all do. They all point to the heart of a person. They all require the strength of Christ in us. They all drive us to love our Savior and depend on him. But some seem to be tied together very tightly. I think with this one, with peacemaking, we have to take it with being meek. Blessed are the meek.

The meek become peacemakers. How? The meek know that they are undeserving of anyone’s kindness or goodness. They know they in themselves are without merit. They know they are truly lowly. They don’t sit around and think about how anyone or everyone owes them something, like respect or special attention or favors. The meek are not into self-promoting whether overtly or covertly. The meek have stopped grasping for privilege and recognition. When all this happens in the meek they stop demanding their way from others which paves the way for peace to emerge. For most people, strife flows from self- assertion…I want what I want and you had better give it to me…that is an attitude that will certainly hinder peace.

Just think about that for a moment in relation to us and God. Think about if God carried out attitudes. Think about if God demanded from us, not His Son, but from us holiness. That is what he wants right? What if he was unwilling to move toward us through His Son? What if it was all dependent on our holiness? Then there would never be peace between God and Man. God moved first. God made the way. God entered our world. He brought peace to us.

But how many times have any of us said, “Well, they hurt me. That person doesn’t deserve peace with me.” And we refuse to be peacemakers. Pride keeps us from peace, a high view of ourselves and lusts for our desires too often trumps peace. And we chose to live as enemies with our fellow man, we forget what Jesus has said: Blessed (happy) are the peacemakers.

James really gives us insight on this. I mean insight regarding peace and meekness, what it is like and what it is like when they are absent. We see this in James 3:13-4:1:

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?

James is speaking here of ending conflict between individuals, that is the context. He had been talking about envy, selfishness and so on. So the subject of peacemakers here is referring to estranged individuals who need to come together in meekness, in peace.

Are you living in a state of conflict with another person? Have you been there a while? Why are you in conflict? What have you done to move toward that person in peace? Not move toward them just to set them strait or to hear them say you were right, but move toward them in peace. This is not a small matter. Living in peace does not mean you fully agree with another person. You would have to be a part of the Trinity to be in full agreement with another, and you aren’t. Have you elevated yourself in that conflict to a place where you don’t belong? Are you raised up looking down on another? Are you waiting for the other persons to come to you? Why? We can be the aggressor for peace. We don’t have to wait. God didn’t wait for you or for me!

There are two other things I want to say about peace from the Bible. First, peace requires some cooperation:

Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Is that a familiar verse to you? It may be. In fact I hear it quoted a fair amount. It’s one of those verses that we might here as an “I tried but it didn’t work out” reason. I mean, even the Bible says we can only shoot for peace but we can only go so far without some corporation on the other persons part. Well that is true, very true, but looking at verse 18 in context, I don’t want you or me to use this as an excuse to give up too quickly.

Here is what I mean. While we cannot on our own create peace with someone else, we can go a long way toward peace, maybe further than we have gone so far. So take Romans 12 and read just prior to getting to verse 18, and as I read it notice how we should live with others in an effort toward peace.

Start in verse 14:

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

And then verse 18…

Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

I wonder in our relationships with others if we have first blessed them, rejoiced and wept with them (that is intimacy), striven for harmony, seen ourselves as lowly up next to them, seen ourselves as unwise and capable of wrong, seen ourselves as often wrong in thought and deed, never repaid with evil in any way, and always giving to what is honorable in their presence – I wonder if we have done all of that regarding those we are in conflict with before we give up and say, “Oh well, I tried, and it didn't work.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Paul goes on after verse 18 to continue to describe how we are to live among each other, all of which promotes peace. Listen as he continues in verse 19-21:

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If we made it our aim to live out all these passages in relationships that we may now say are not peaceful or are broken, do you think there would be greater opportunity for peace? So when the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 12:14:

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

We must realize that the striving of which he speaks may be much more involved than what we have thought before. But it is worth it, it is working in the strength of Christ doing what only He can do in us, it is representing Him well!

I’m afraid that we more often just assume there won’t be peace and so we walk away for days, week, years, and for some a lifetime. Let me say further that for believers, there really is no excuse for living in a way that is not peaceable with each other.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that we are not talking about peace at all cost. Jesus is not promoting peace through ignoring all the rest of his teaching and character.

Lastly, there is a false peace which we need to be careful of. There is as type of peace that is unbiblical and not pleasing to the Lord. There are people and even many in the church that might raise peace to a level above many of God’s other commands to us. They may say peace in the church, peace among people, or peace is the most important thing. This would be to ignore sinful behavior among fellow Christians or to excuse those who might misuse God’s word for their benefit. Peace at all cost would be to ignore what God has said in many areas.

If we think of being a peacemaker from the beatitude standpoint, then we must see it as relating to and being consistent with the other beatitudes and never to exclude them. For instance, the fourth beatitude said, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the fifth blessed are the merciful, and the sixth blessed are the pure in heart. These all have to do with holiness, with living God’s way in Christ. If to keep peace requires violating any of these others then that is not the peace that we are to keep. If someone says, “I’ll live in peace with you if you sin in a particular way,” then that is not a peace for us.

Many will chose to turn their back on living in righteousness to appease another person for some kind of peaceful experience. That is not what Jesus is advocating. We don’t get to pick and choose what we follow from God. We are here to live for Him according to His word. We don’t worship at that altar of peace, we worship at the altar of God who loves peace but who also loves righteousness, holiness, and purity in His children.

Are you living in peace with your neighbor? Are you a peacemaker in your relationships? Are you a peacemaker in the circles in which you live? Have you, have we, done all that we can to pursue peace, to strive for peace? Have we humbled ourselves, walked in meekness, and lowered ourselves in our own estimation so that we can pursue peace with others? Do we love peace as much as God loves peace, and are we willing to initiate peace with others the way He has initiated peace with us?

Jesus says, those who are peacemakers will be happy, truly happy in Christ and will be called sons of God! Will you commit to pray, rely on Christ and make peace?

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.