Summary: What a peaceful world we live in. No war, no crime, everyone just getting along, cooperating in everything we do. Oh wait, wrong planet.
What a peaceful world we live in. No war, no crime, everyone just getting along, cooperating in everything we do. Oh wait, wrong planet.
As of a couple weeks ago depending on who you talk to, there are anywhere between 35 and 60 wars going on at present in our world. More people died in wars in the 20th century than any other on record. This doesn’t include the political uprisings that are going on like we have been witnessing in Egypt and Tunisia, and now Libya.
Worldwide murder rates are currently at about 1 in ten thousand people with Canada at about 1 in every one hundred thousand, Winnipeg having the highest rate in Canada.
Humans are so good at making peace aren’t we? All the conferences, summits, treaties are working so effectively because we have all the answers. The United Nations have practically wiped war off the face of the earth. Glory to man.
The world’s way of creating peace is to take a stream that is poisoning people because there’s a rotten carcass upstream, and simply dump chlorine into the water rather than removing the carcass.
If we have learned anything from the other beatitudes so far it’s that the problem is a problem in the heart of man. If we don’t address that, there will never be peace. Human lust, greed, pride, jealousy, self-centeredness, those are the causes of violence and conflict. It’s a sin issue, a theological issue, and it will never be solved by politics or even religion for that matter.
The only thing that will ever solve the problem is a world full of poor spirited, grieving, meek, righteous, merciful people with pure hearts. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, not through power or violence, and they will also be the only ones who make put their desires aside enough to make real peace rather than violence and dissension.
I. What is a Peacemaker?
It’s assumed in the Bible that every Christian is a peacemaker. The Greek word is really to “bring harmony” or to join or make one again. When we look at Jesus’ words we see that there’s a little confusion here though. The first thing we hear Jesus say about peace in Matthew is that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Wait a minute here!
He uses exactly the same word when he says I have not come to bring peace, as when he says in John, “peace I leave with you my peace I give to you”. So what’s the deal?
If we look at the passage about not bringing peace but a sword, the context is in sending his apostles out into the world, and the persecution they will come across. He is not talking about peace in terms of world peace and lack of war, but he is preparing us all for the fact that because of him and the Gospel, people will be at odds about him.
People will either be for Jesus, or against him, and therefore it will separate even those in families because of having faith in him.
The other peace he mentions giving us in John is not external at all, but internal peace or rest in the midst of this persecution. This makes perfect sense if we read the next beatitudes which are about persecution. So that maybe makes sense, but what about his followers being peacemakers, what does that mean?
The interpretation that makes most sense to me is that we will be peacemakers in that we will promote peace between fallen man and God. That is ultimately the only peace that matters. We can’t bring inner peace to people, only Jesus can provide that. We won’t even be able to bring world peace. Jesus is clear that that will never happen until he comes again. So the only reasonable alternative is that we will bring peace between people and God through our obedience to the great commission and living as he commands. A person truly at peace with God will be peaceful with other people. Peaceful hearts will bring external peace.
So the practical aspect of his followers being peacemakers really means that we are never to be people that intentionally disrupt peace except by exposing Christ. But it’s also not about appeasing everybody so that we seek peace at any cost. If peacemakers have an “anything goes” rule and there are no guidelines, we’ll have much worse chaos and violence than we have now. That’s why God gave us the Law. Jesus prayed for unity, but he also prayed that people might be “kept from evil and in truth”.
Here are a few other ways we can bring peace into the world, or at least avoid bringing conflict into the world.