Garry continued his series on the Beatitudues (‘Looking For Heroes’) last night, focussing on Matthew 5:9 TNIV: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’
The word ‘peace’ (‘Shalom’ in Hebrew) has many connotations, including completeness, soundness, safety, tranquillity and serenity. Peacemakers are people who are peaceable, who bring peace and who generate peace. God Himself went to great lengths to achieve peace. He seeks peace and is devoted to it and urges us to live at peace with everyone as far as we are able (Rom 12:18 TNIV). It’s a topic frequently mentioned in the New Testament (eg Col 1:19-20 TNIV, Hebrews 12:14 TNIV) and yet we often want to receive peace without necessarily passing it on!
Peace is high on God’s agenda. Luke 2:14 TNIV reminds us that the angels proclaimed peace to those on whom God’s favour rests and Simeon, on seeing the baby Jesus, declared that He would guide our feet into the path of peace (see Luke 1:76-79 TNIV). God is the God of peace (see Rom 15:33 TNIV, Rom 16:20 TNIV) and it is so important to Him that He took the responsibility for doing something about the problems we faced, even though sin was our problem, not His. Col 1:19-20 TNIV reminds us of the price Christ paid, Christ who is our peace (Eph 2:14 TNIV). He is the way we obtain peace with God and thus brings us the gospel of peace (Rom 10:15 MKJV). God has gone out of His way to make peace!
Jesus promised to give His peace to His disciples (John 14:27 TNIV). He who had a perfect relationship with His heavenly Father offers us the chance to have the same unity with God. His peace can be ours. Yet this is not a naive, blind peace, for in talking about peace He also reminded His disciples that in this world they would also experience trouble (John 16:33 TNIV). Some people are naturally serene by temperament, but Jesus knew what it was to be troubled and in distress (see the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark 14:33 TNIV), yet He could also talk about having peace in those situations. Our relationship with God can be undisturbed, even when we are facing tumultuous circumstances.
God wants us not only to have peace with Him, achieved through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, but to have peace with other people too. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit.
Peace with others
We live in a broken world with broken people who break God’s hearts. When we mirror God’s character, our hearts too will become softened and tender. Those who exemplify God’s character will have trouble in this world and we will often feel that our hearts are broken. Other people may not want to live at peace with us, but as far as we are able, we are to live at peace with others. Truth and righteousness must not be compromised, but we have to be willing to go much further than we often are in order to achieve peace. God’s peace then can be the umpire or arbiter in our lives: ‘let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.’ (Col 3:15 TNIV)
Achieving peace with others often requires great effort on our parts (see Rom 14:19 TNIV, Eph 4:3 TNIV, 1 Cor 7:15 TNIV). We are urged to be ‘of one mind’ and to ‘live in peace’ (2 Cor 13:11 TNIV). In order to live at peace with brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to keep on loving and forgiving and we have to make every effort to live at peace not only with Christians but with everybody (see Heb 12:14 TNIV). Peter goes one step further and urges us to ‘seek peace and pursue it’ (1 Pet 3:10-11 TNIV), a word which can also be translated as ‘persecute’ – we have to chase and really seek after peace! James reminds us that true heavenly wisdom is peace-loving (James 3:17-18 TNIV) and that those who sow in peace will reap a harvest of righteousness. Peacemakers really do show the character of God and therefore can truly be called His children.