(Slide 1a) They are: a peacemaker and a missionary.
This month we will be addressing the peacemaker role and next month we will be addressing the missionary role.
I believe that this is a time in which the Church of Jesus Christ, needs to step back and refocus on what God has called it to do and be - peacemakers and be missionaries of His love and grace. It is a Biblical role that we must take up again and, through the power and strength of His Holy Spirit, fulfill to the best of our ability.
As we begin this part of the series, here is our road map for this month. (Slide 2)
What does it mean to be a peacemaker? More important what does it mean to be God’s peacemaker?
To be God’s peacemaker is to understand the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping
To be God’s peacemaker is to practice the Biblical pattern of reconciliation
To be God’s peacemaker is to discern the nature of conflict
Finally, to be God’s peacemaker is to accept that peacemaking is an ‘inside out’ process.
Each week we will address each of these four points and we begin this morning (finally, huh) with this point. (Slide 6)
To be God’s peacemaker is to understand the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping .
(Slide 7) Our text for this morning is Matthew 5:9
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
This verse appears at the beginning of what has been called ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ and I think that we need to, as we should always do, understand and acknowledge the context of this verse before we go any further.
This particular segment of chapter 5 is also called the Beatitudes. It begins with verse 3 and ends with verse 10. Each verse describes what Jesus indicates that God the Father acknowledges or blesses when it comes to certain character traits. Those traits are basically ones that indicate a pursuit for God and what is right and just as well as a desire to be humble, pure in heart, and merciful. They are what Jesus expects His followers to develop over the course of the rest of their lives.
Now just prior to verse 9 we read in verse 8 ‘God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.’ I like what John Stott says about this placement.
‘The sequence of thought from purity of heart to peacemaking is natural, because one of the most frequent causes of conflict is intrigue, while openness and sincerity are essential to all true reconciliation.’ In other words, if we become pure in our hearts where our motives and intentions reside, peace stands a greater chance of developing in our relationships with others as a mark of our Christian character.
Of course, as Stott goes on to remark and as verse 10 says, there is a price to be paid for such commitment to peace. A price that is costly.
Now for our purposes for today, we note that Matthew writes the word that is translated ‘peacemaker’ not ‘peacekeeper.’ What is the difference between the two?
A look at the ending of both words is helpful here. To make something is to create something. There is a measure of some control over the situation or creation.