Summary: Jesus commended us to be peacemakers. How do we go about this?
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
In this article we shall explore one aspect of relating to others properly; that of being peacemakers.
Peace is a great theme of the Bible. It is mentioned 412 times. Additionally peacemakers is mentioned 8 times, and peaceable 12 times. Jesus spoke of the desirability of being peacemakers while giving the famous Sermon on the Mount.
Peace is one of those things people assume they understand, yet God looks at peace as existing only within in a context of holiness. This produced some very different approaches to peacemaking than people would normally be comfortable with, on the part of our Lord during His Earthly ministry.
Isaiah prophetically called Jesus “the Prince of Peace” in 9:6, yet Jesus said “I bring not peace, but a sword”. (Matthew 10:34) Why is this? How is this? What is peace?
Let’s look at some ideas people have about what constitutes peace. These are far different than the Lord’s true understanding of the make up of peace.
1. Accommodation of the presence of evil, rather than seeking to defeat it equals peace. A well known example of this was when the British Prime Minister returned from Germany, feeling that a piece of paper signed by liars who were bent on World domination meant that peace was at hand. This 1938 Munich Pact: meant “peace in our time” according to P. M. Neville Chamberlain.
2. The lack of a Hot War in the presence of hatred is mistakenly called peace by some. The capability of “Mutually Assured Destruction” kept the Soviet Union and the United States out of a shooting war with each other during the Cold War era, but we were not at peace, and anyone with common sense knew it.
3. Failure to deal with offenses and sin; pretending that things are fine when they are in fact, not fine, is often mistaken for peace making. This course always eventually leads to telling third parties about the offense, or to bitterness and hidden rancor. Dealing openly and in redemptive love with the person or group who has offended you or sinned against you is far better, even though unpleasant subjects must be discussed.
4. Having real fellowship with those who are not right with God and are headed for Hell, all the while failing to ever confront them on the need they have to get right with God, is sometimes called “being at peace with all men”. After all, there is no controversy happening in the relationship.
None of these are peace at all. They do not constitute peace between people, and they do not constitute peace between God and people.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Confronted and Corrected Evil.
In John Chapters eight through ten, Jesus repeatedly confronted the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He made no effort to get on their “good side”. He was blunt concerning their spiritual condition, as he spoke before the Jerusalem crowd. He did not compromise in any way for the sake of “smooth sailing”.
During this period, he did one of the “Messianic Miracles” which the Pharisees taught that only the Messiah would ever do. He healed a man born blind. If Jesus had spoken kindly of the Pharisees at that point, they would have hailed him as Messiah, but he uncompromisingly refused to have fellowship with them. After matching wits with the Lord, they finally attempted to stone him that very day.
Then He left them and went and raised Lazarus from the dead. The man had been dead four days at the time of his raising. This was another “Messianic Miracle” done by Jesus, right on the heels of the pharisaic rejection of him. The timing of this was very “in your face” from the Pharisees’ point of view. To them, Jesus did not appear to be a peace maker at all. He appeared to be anything but.
Jesus Called People to Leave their Sin
In the first part of John eight, when the Lord beat the Pharisees in their attempt to trap him through their misuse of the woman caught in adultery, his compassionate ministry to her included a command to leave her life of sin. When he dealt with the Samaritan woman back in chapter four of this same Gospel, he told her plainly that she had had six husbands and was now living with a man she was not married to. He never shunned sinners, whether they were high or low in society, but he always confronted the sin in their lives which was keeping them from having peace with God. He never came close to joining them in their lifestyles of sin either, whether that sin was the religious hypocrisy of the high and mighty, or the fornication or theft of the outcast.