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Summary: A look at what Jesus means when He calls peacemakers blessed.

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Blessed are the Peacemakers

November 16, 2008

Matthew 5:3-9

On Wednesday morning, December 2, 1942, a group of scientists completed an experiment in a converted squash court in Chicago. It was a monumental achievement which would alter history forever. The scientists had discovered the ATOMIC BOMB and its destructive power. One person in that group was the Nobel Prize winning physicist, Arthur Compton. Years later, Dr. Compton explained, he felt a great sense of gratitude to God for another of God’s great gifts, but he knew this was a gift that could put a question mark over humanity’s future, and Dr. Compton said, “Man must now go the way of Jesus or perish.” The Day that Changed Your Life. Guideposts 17, No. 1, March 1962: 3.

There is no future in war, no future in hate, no future in revenge. Any attempt we make to destroy others will almost certainly lead to our destruction. Remember the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, and the words of Tevye the milkman. The year was 1905, and the Russians told the people in his little village, they had 3 days to vacate or the town would be destroyed. One of Tevye’s Jewish friends cried out in anger, “We should defend ourselves. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” To which Tevye said, “Very good, that way the whole world will be blind and toothless.” In our era, if we follow the same edict, we will find our world to be lifeless.

As we have seen in the other Beatitudes, it is easy to read the words of Jesus and gloss over them, thinking that they sound nice, but in reality, if we are willing, they take us much deeper into the life of faith. When we read the words of Jesus, we always want the second part before the first part. The 1st part of each Beatitude is much more difficult to accomplish because it requires action on our part. The 2nd part is always the blessing, the second is the frosting on the cake. Think about it ~

We want God to be merciful to us, but we don’t want to be merciful to others;

We want to see God, but we must be pure in heart to see God;

We want God’s comfort, but who wants to mourn;

We want to be filled by God, but do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Think about it, we want to be children of God, but who really wants to be a peacemaker. Yet we all want peace in our lives, but Jesus is saying something much bigger and unsettling to us, He is calling us to a difficult and even a heroic lifestyle when He tells us the peacemakers will be blessed. We think we are blessed and happy if we have peace, but Jesus is not talking about our peace, He is talking about you and I being peacemakers. There is a big difference in this.

The word PEACE comes from the Hebrew word most of us have heard of, “SHALOM.” It is a universal Hebrew greeting meaning, “Hello, goodbye, see you later and great to see you.” The deeper meaning of shalom is that we are stating we wish the best for our friend, we are really saying, “dear friend, may you be at peace, may you be completed in your soul.”

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So, when we think about peace, it is not just about the silencing of guns and no more war, as good as that may be, that is not what Jesus was talking about. Peace is a state of well-being, of being full in the heart, spirit and mind. George Buttrick once stated, “what we cal peace is usually not peace at all, but only smoldering grudges and exhausted hatreds.” {The Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1951) Vol. 7, 286.}

And there lies a big part of our problem, we bring an end to armed conflict but we leave a vacuum where possibly even greater conflicts can take root and grow. True peace is not a vacuum, but a fullness.

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So, what does it mean to be a peacemaker? To start with, we cannot be a peacemaker without a prerequisite step, that is being at peace with ourselves, in our inner lives. Even though this was not the point of what Jesus was saying, we cannot make peace, if we have no peace. After we have peace within ourselves about what we are called to do, then we can progress to the next level. It’s a more intimate level of peacemaking, one where we attempt to make peace with those who are closest to us ~

spouse to spouse

parent to child

sibling to sibling

friend to friend

neighbor to neighbor; and

Christ-follower to Christ-follower.

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