• johned@aibi.ph

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

(Matthew 5:9 NKJV) Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.

The first three beatitudes (poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness) deal with humbling ourselves before God and man and are fundamental to any form of personal piety. The next three (hungering and thirsting after righteousness, being merciful and being pure in heart) concern ones own right actions and attitudes. The last three - (peacemaking, persecution and being vilified) deal with the righteous person in conflict with an unrighteous world. Peacemaking presupposes the other beatitudes. It is futile and self-defeating to try to make peace without virtues such as meekness or righteousness or mercy or purity of heart.

"Blessed are the peacemakers" calls the Christian to take the peacemaker within their hearts and let Him loose on the world. Peacemaking takes good people and asks them to produce a good world. There are too many badly divided churches full of very good people. Good people need to learn to get along, to let Jesus in them make peace among them, if they are to be truly called "sons of God".

Being A Peacemaker

Peacemaking is the strenuous exercise of wrestling a self-centered and conflict ridden world into the peaceful and blessed paths and patterns of God. The Bible tells us to
"(Ephesians 4:3) strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Thus unity comes from the cross and is of the Spirit. We need to maintain it. But maintaining peace is hard work. Verbs like endeavor, strive and pursue are used to describe the effort needed.
(Romans 14:19 NKJV) Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
Peacemaking seems to be strenuous stuff indeed!

Peacemaking is based on applying godly wisdom to human relationships. It is the opposite of the competitive relationships that divide the world.
(James 3:16-18 NKJV) For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. {17} But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. {18} Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace

Peacemaking vs Being Holy

It may seem incredibly obvious but in order to be a peacemaker you first have to stop being divisive. Believe it or not divisive people are liked in religious circles because their basic statement is "our group is right and all the other groups are wrong". This is a great struggle for me because as a bible teacher I consider correct doctrine to be very important. God requires it of me. (James 3:1, 2 Timothy 2:15). I have at times been overly harsh on my brothers and sisters in Christ who do not share my calling or my burden. At times I have been divisive and controversial. Sometimes this has been proper and necessary. Often it has not been. Jesus was both a controversialist and a peacemaker. Lets see what He had to say about this balance.

(Mark 9:50 NKJV) "Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another."
We are called to be BOTH salty and peaceful - but saltiness has the priority because without it we are useless.(Matthew 5:13) The same thought is expressed in:

(Hebrews 12:14 NKJV) Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

We are to pursue peace with all men and we are also to pursue holiness . Our attempts to procure peace must not cause us to compromise core values or become corrupt of heart.

Many Christian groups that seek broad-based appeal have drifted away from sound teaching and its "saltiness" in order to avoid internal conflict. Though this is a common mistake it should not totally dishearten us in out attempts to make peace. What we need to do is study the boundaries that the New Testament sets for who is in and who is out.

In Galatians 3:28 and James 2:1-10 we are clearly told to make peace between different ethnic and cultural backgrounds (eg Jew and Gentile), between different social backgrounds (rich and poor, slave and free) and across gender (male and female)). In Romans 14 we are not to judge our brother with regard to food or drink or Sabbaths. Jesus made it clear that we are not to judge externals such as giving (Mark 12:42,43) which is internally regulated (2 Corinthians 9:7). These are our issues of tolerance.

However, there are some things we are not to tolerate but instead to discipline if we are to have peace. These include immoral lifestyles (1 Corinthians 5:1-13), indolence (Titus 1:12,13, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) participation in idolatry or the occult (Revelation 2:20), and blatantly wrong doctrine such as denying the resurrection. (1 Timothy 4:1-8, 2 Timothy 2:15-18)

God's peace comes from God's rule and there is no peace without it.
(Isaiah 48:22 NKJV) "There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked."
It is ungodly to have a sharp dispute over whether the rapture will occur at the beginning, middle or end of the tribulation - such disputes are fleshly (Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 3:1-5). It is equally ungodly to gladly tolerate adulterous or homosexual lifestyles (1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 6:9-11). Peacemaking must reflect God's rule and God's values. Thus peacemaking is not universal niceness but the ordering of creation into the righteous and peace-filled paths of God. Peace is not just absence of conflict. It is the creation of a community that knows the presence of God and which fixes their hearts on Him.

(Isaiah 26:3 NKJV) You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

Godly peacemaking is at war with sin. The great peacemakers have a powerful ethical conscience.

(1 Peter 3:11 NKJV) Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.

Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptist were all peacemakers of great power and strong ethics. This ethical basis gives a strong platform for winning the war against the angry, disordering and conflict ridden forces of the world. Without such an ethical basis you end up giving too much ground. There is a historical tendency to end up being ruled by that which you tolerate. Israel became tolerant to idolatry under Solomon and was soon ruled by idolatrous kings. Unless the Church's ethical conscience is aroused it will be taken over by the sins it tolerates. The current moves in the Uniting Church in Australia to ordain active homosexuals is a case in point. The Christian peacemaker need to have worked through his or her faith and have a firm grasp of those values which are essential and non-negotiable. This is especially true for those working in cross-cultural situations.

Pursuing Peace

To swing the pendulum back a bit, now that we have established our ethical boundaries, we will look at our duty as Christians to refrain from division and to pursue and promote peace. Lets start with a few very well known bible verses...

(Galatians 5:19-23 NKJV) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, {20} idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, {21} envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. {22} But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The "works of the flesh" are incredibly divisive:

"hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders,"

And the fruit of the Spirit are incredibly peaceful:

"love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control".

So the starting point for peacemaking is living a life under the control of the Holy Spirit. Paul restates this in his epistle to the Romans:

(Romans 8:4-6 NKJV) that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. {5} For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. {6} For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

The starting point for peacemaking is a renewed mind that is set on the things of God and which is soaked in faith-filled prayer and free from undue anxiety.
(Isaiah 26:3 NKJV) You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7} and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Peacemaking is thus, first of all, a spiritual activity that flows from faith.

There are two sides to this. At the same time that we pursue the things of the Spirit we must also actively put to death the things of the flesh if we to make peace.

(Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV) Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. {32} And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
It takes self-control not to gossip, not to vent our frustrations and not to take revenge when we are provoked. Its a good idea not to let the war start in the first place but to absorb the insult with grace.

(Luke 6:27-31 NKJV) "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, {28} "bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. {29} "To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. {30} "Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. {31} "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

Peacemaking depends on not retaliating and having the spiritual greatness of heart to be able to temporarily set aside one's legitimate rights in the cause of the cross.

Tying this discussion together we can see that peacemaking requires a powerful infilling of the Holy Ghost if we are a) To manifest the fruits of the Spirit b) have our minds full of life and peace 3) be self-controlled with our gossip etc 4) be able to graciously absorb insult and injury. Fortunately God is not stingy in the way He dispenses the Holy Spirit to those who admit they are in desperate need of His power.

(Luke 11:13 NKJV) "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

You and I need to come before God daily and ask God to be filled with the Holy Spirit so we can be peacemakers in His world.

(Ephesians 5:18 NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Today, while I was writing this article a friend rang me to say that he did not need a poster I had spent many hours doing for him. He had done it himself. Last week it was a huge rush to be done ASAP. This week it didn't matter. I fumed. I wanted to tell him how insulting and thoughtless he was. God always convicts me at such times and I could hardly write an article on peacemaking and bite someone's head off!

"Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you"
came to mind so I prayed that the event the poster was for would be successful and that Mike would have a good day. I also prayed that God would teach him to be a bit more considerate! That's allowed I think. For once I reacted rightly. Something that could have become a contention was made peaceful and I even feel peaceful about it now. As Proverbs says it is best to stop these contentions before they creep into the relationship and spoil it forever.

(Proverbs 18:19 NKJV) A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Sons of God

Peacemakers will be called "sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). In other words their godliness will be so evident that people will characterize them as being "just like God" in character, sons of God. There is an interesting association between peacemaking and being called sons of God which happened just after Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water. Matthew records:

(Matthew 14:32-33 NKJV) And when they (Jesus and Peter) got into the boat, the wind ceased. {33} Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."

Jesus ability to master the unruly elements and bring peace marked Him as a "son of God". Something similar may have happened in the multi-cultural church in Antioch which was a united and vibrant congregation.

(Acts 11:24-26 NKJV) For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. {25} Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. {26} And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
It seems that the harmony in the church resulted in them being called Christians that is "little Christs".

(Galatians 3:26 NKJV) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Christians are sons of God but not all Christians are "called" sons of God by those who know them. Our nature as sons of God is hidden and awaits to be revealed.
(Romans 8:14-19 NKJV) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. {15} For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." {16} The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, {17} and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. {18} For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. {19} For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

As we engage in peacemaking we bring creation out of its bondage into decay and into the peace of God.(This will happen in all its fullness at the resurrection but we can have a foretaste now) As we do so our nature as sons of God is fully revealed. For instance when Jesus healed the sick and restored peace to broken bodies and reversed the bondage to decay it was evident that He was a son of God. Jesus yearned to reveal who He truly was. When the Devil tempted him it was with in appropriate answers to the challenge "if you are the Son of God....". As sons of God, led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14 above), we declare who we really are when we avoid quarrels, mend our relationships, care for the sick, free the captives and reconcile people to each other. It is our ability to bless others and to love our enemies that sets us apart from the world and all who live according to the flesh.

Practical Pointers For Peacemaking

(See my article on Christian Conflict Resolution for 20 tips on this.)

  • Pursue peace as a worthwhile and high priority goal. (Romans 12:18)
  • Develop the proper spiritual foundations for peace. Confess your sins to God. (1 John 1:7-10) Then ask to be filled with the Spirit.(Eph 5:18)
  • Develop godly boundaries based on Scripture so that you know what is negotiable and what isn't. (Romans 14)
  • Put away the flesh and things such as envy and selfish ambition which only create disorder and "every evil thing".(James 3:16-8)
  • Ask God for discernment about which issues/relationships to make peace on. Don't rush in to situations that are too hard for you.(Philippians 1:9)
  • Practice blessing people and wishing them peace.(John 14:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:23)
  • Be quick to listen to others. (James 1:19,20)
  • Don't broadcast your opinions all the time for that is the mark of fools.(Proverbs 18:2, Ecclesiastes 5:3, 10:12-14). Instead show restraint. (James 1;19,20).
  • React slowly especially when you have been offended. (James 1:19,20)
  • Fix things fast before they get "set in concrete". (Proverbs 18:19, Matthew 5:23-26)
  • Be willing to yield on unimportant matters (James 3:18)
  • Do to others what you would want them to do to you. (Luke 6:31)

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