Summary: Close to God's own heart are the peacemakers of this world. Read on to discover how God can use you to bring peace to hurting lives.
Children of God - Matthew 5:9 - September 11, 2011
Series: Kingdom Life – A World Turned Upside Down #7
I’m not sure if you’re aware of it or not, but Canadians have a rich history of peacekeeping. To date, more than 125,000 Canadians have participated in peacekeeping duties, in more than 75 countries, around the world. For the most part their contribution on the world stage is something that we can be justifiably proud of and more Canadian citizens have served in peacekeeping roles than have the citizens of any other nation on earth. Those who do so have come from different walks of life – some serve through the military, others as policeman, some as civilians – but they all had a similar vision – to help make the world a better place in which to live. In the process of doing so, nearly 275 of them, have lost their lives. There is no way to know how many lives they’ve saved by being willing to go where others dare not. (Knights Canadian Info Collection at http://members.shaw.ca/kcic1/peacekeepers2.html)
Their service, their sacrifice, is noble. It’s laudable. It’s praiseworthy. But I want you to understand this morning that as Christians we are called to something even greater than keeping the peace. Turn in your Bibles with me, to the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew, chapter 5, and we’ll begin reading in verse 1. This is the seventh message in our series entitled: Kingdom Life – A World Turned Upside Down. And what we’ve discovered in this series so far is that the life Jesus calls us to really is different than the life the world is calling us to. Life is turned upside down when Jesus is at work. But that’s a good thing. So let’s continue in our study of the Beatitudes as I begin reading in verse 1 …
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:1–8, NIV)
And then, verse 9, read it aloud with me, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NIV) Blessed are the peacemakers. Folks, the greater thing we are called to as Christians, is to be peacemakers – not just keepers of the peace – but makers of the peace. And that’s an important distinction. Peacekeepers seek to keep a peace where it has already been established. It’s important work. But peacemakers seek to bring peace to the midst of conflict and chaos. Jesus is calling us to be peacemakers. Those who do so are blessed – profoundly happy – for they will be called children of God. In other words, those who seek to actively bring peace to the midst of conflict and chaos, are living out the very heart of God Himself, because God’s heart is for peace.
And that becomes apparent as we read His Word. There are 66 books that make up our Bible – 52 of them contain the word, “peace.” The word itself appears more than 400 times throughout the Old and the New Testaments combined. It’s an important concept for us to grasp because it’s a concept that’s near and dear to the heart of God. In fact this peace is part of the very character and nature of God. In the book of Romans we read of the “God of peace.” (Romans 15:33, NIV) Jesus Himself carries the title, “Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NIV) And it’s through the Holy Spirit that we have “peace and joy.” (Romans 14:17, NIV) The biblical idea of peace is, in many ways, irrevocably tied to the heart of God.
Now to us here today the word “peace” simply conveys the idea of the absence of conflict or the presence of tranquility. So when the kids are all getting along, things are running smoothly, we might say we are at “peace” with it all. Or, to give you another example, if two nations are not at war with one another, a state of peace is said to exist between them. Or in still another example, we say we are at peace with something if we’ve come to a place of acceptance of certain truths. That’s our English understanding of peace.
The Hebrew concept of peace, “shalom,” is a little different. It’s not just the absence of conflict with someone. When you wish someone, “shalom,” you are desiring God’s very best for them in all areas of their lives. If they are sick you desire them to be well, if relationships are fractured you desire that there would be reconciliation, if they are without hope your prayer is that hope would spring up within them, if they are downcast that they would be moved to rejoice, if they mourn that they would be comforted. In this sense Jesus’ understanding of peace goes above and beyond what our understanding of it has been to this point. But His is the sense in which we need to understand it because it is He who has said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be children of God.” Blessed are those who seek to bring God’s very best into the lives of others.