October 21st, 2009 by Kristi Stephens
This is a continuation of our series on the Sermon on the Mount – if you missed them, you might want to go back and catch up here.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
This verse is one that has been used and abused and ripped out of its context. What kind of peace are we talking about here?
Are we talking about “tolerating” one another and refusing to assert that one religion is more true than another? This is certainly a popular opinion today.
We are told that those of us who are closed-minded, those who assert that our beliefs are true and that others are not, those who cling to our “religious ideals” are to blame for the conflict in the world. Yesterday on twitter one of the trending topics was “No God” – in other words, that was the most popular topic happening worldwide on twitter. One individual posted a tweet which read “no God, know peace. Know God, no peace.”
Does this verse really mean that we should all just drop our differences and stop offending one another with our truth claims? A cursory reading of the context of this verse clears up this debate instantly – the next two verses read:
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” (Matt. 5:10-11)
You don’t get persecuted for getting along with everyone. So, what kind of peace are we talking about? I think this verse is often misunderstood because we misunderstand the true conflict that we are to seek peace for. The ultimate conflict that needs to be addressed is that humanity is in rebellion against God. There will never be true peace on earth until Jesus sits on the throne of this world and every knee bows before Him.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
As believers, as the blessed ones, we have been reconciled to God through the work of Christ. In our hearts, the battle is over – we have bowed the knee to Him and now know a type of peace that passes understanding. Now we have been given a ministry of reconciliation – a charge to bring others into peace with God. To be peacemakers.
Now obviously, this peace also will surface in our lives in our interpersonal relationships, as well. Remember that these descriptions of “the blessed” in Matthew 5 are not descriptions of different groups – this is all one group being described in the beatitudes. Those who walk with God are poor in spirit, mourn over their sin, hunger and thirst for righteousness, show mercy to others, etc. So, while I am saying that peacemakers means seeking to bring peace between God and man, I am also saying that those who belong in this group fulfill this ministry of reconciliation in a manner consistent with all those other characteristics.
Peacemaking is an overflow of true inner peace with God. I love the description of this in the Jamieson Fausset Brown commentary -
When this reconciliation actually takes place, and one has “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”–even “the peace of God which passeth all understanding”–the peace-receivers become transformed into peace-diffusers. God is thus seen reflected in them; and by the family likeness these peacemakers are recognized as the children of God.
It’s a family likeness.
Today as we live in an increasingly hostile world, pray for God to open your eyes to the true battle going on. There were lots of angry, hateful things said today on Twitter; a few weeks ago was International Blasphemy Day; an atheist ad campaign is scheduled to begin in New York. Recognize that while believers in Jesus Christ get caught in the crossfire, these people are not really at war with us – they are at war with God. May God grant us compassion to see these people as individuals who are in desperate need of the ministry of reconciliation, for they have declared war on God.
For blessed are the peacemakers.