Are you the peacekeeper in your world? Always trying to make sure the feathers don’t get ruffled, keeping people in respective corners, helping to avoid awkward conversations and situations?
Yeah. Me, too.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
Peacemakers. Not just peacekeepers. Jesus goes for a far more active descriptor and says we are blessed to be MAKERS of peace! In order to be a peacemaker, we must preserve peace where it already is while ALSO actively work to restore it where it is not!
In the 3,400 years of recorded world history, there have only been 268 recorded without a war. Clearly, we need peacemakers.
But remember, the Beatitudes are not necessarily referring to physical states of being. Instead, the Beatitudes are more concerned with the state of our heart, spiritually speaking.
Jesus wasn’t referring to making peace among nations here (although one can argue that would be a natural and positive consequence to making spiritual peace). Instead, Jesus is talking about making peace between God and man. After all, that is precisely what He came here to do:
For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. Luke 19:10, NLT
On a spiritual level, discord between man and God began in the Garden in Genesis 3. Jesus came to restore the peace between God and man. The fall of mankind divided (or created discord between) man and God. What was needed was reconciliation.
In scripture, the Greek word used to describe this reconciliation is eiro – which means to actively intervene to bind together those who are divided. Jesus uses a derivative of this word in this Beatitude, namely eirenopoieo, which signifies a harmonious relationship between two or more parties, and is not merely the absence of war or uneasy truce. It means that the parties who are holding differences of opinion are willing to turn toward each other and embrace one. The Hebrew word that means the same thing is one we are more familiar with: shalom.
In Jesus, we see the perfect shape of a meek (powerfully under obedience and control), pure of heart (filled with Godly integrity) peacemaker; a person with a major bent on repairing relationships between mankind, of course, but most importantly between mankind and His Father. A living manifestation of shalom.
Jesus was not a pacifist and is not encouraging us to be ones either here. Making peace doesn’t mean looking the other way when a wrong has been committed in order to keep the peace.
“The blessing is on the peace-makers, not necessarily on the peace-lovers. It very often happens that if a man loves peace in the wrong way, he succeeds in making trouble and not peace. We may, for instance, allow a threatening and dangerous situation to develop, and our defense is that for peace’s sake we do not want to take any action. There is many a person who thinks that he is loving peace, when in fact he is piling up trouble for the future, because he refuses to face the situation and to take the action which the situation demands. The peace which the Bible calls blessed does not come from the evasion of issues; it comes from facing them, dealing with them, and conquering them. What this beatitude demands is not the passive acceptance of things because we are afraid of the trouble of doing anything about them, but the active facing of things, and the making of peace, even when the way to peace is through struggle.” (Barclay’s Commentary on Matthew 5)
The peace Jesus refers to is not peace as the world would describe it – that idea of “an absence of chaos”. Instead, it implies almost an unshakable sense of all being right between you and God so that nothing can knock you off course.
Woven throughout scripture is this vision of God’s kind of peace:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3, NIV
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27, NLT
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7, NIV
That is the kind of peace we are working to make!
In this beatitude, the condition is to be a peacemaker. The blessing part is this: when we strive to be makers of peace, we have the ability to call ourselves children of God. Whoa!
In other words, if we are peacemakers, we are the Children of God. Please note it’s not the same thing as saying, “…if you are a peacemaker, then you can be called My child and so then I will love you.” It’s more like Jesus saying, “…when you facilitate peace between others, and most importantly between others and Me, you show this world whose you really are – MINE.” We become the physical manifestation to others of God’s lovingkindness when we not only preserve peace (keep it) but when we work for reconciliation in order to make peace where it currently does not exist.
Frankly, this can be translated as “we resemble our older brother”! (And what an older brother He is…!) 😉
We are not God, of course, or even God-like. But our resemblance to Him would be visible to others through our humility, reliance on God, our hunger for righteousness, our meekness, our integrity, and our striving to reconcile one another to Him.
So, how can we rewrite this beauty of a beatitude with our newfound knowledge on it? What about something like this:
Blessed are those who actively work to restore God’s perfect peace to troubled and fractured hearts, for they are transforming themselves into the likeness of Christ every time they reach out in His name.
I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather resemble, can you?
Peace, love, and JOY!
Up Next Week: Joyful Persecution (the ultimate oxymoron)