Summary: “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”
Making Peace in the Midst of Conflict
Conflict is everywhere, isn’t it? In a classic Winston Churchill comeback, Lady Astor once said, “If you were my husband, I’d put poison in your coffee.” Churchill responded with his cutting wit: “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.” We laugh at this sarcasm, but it reveals that all of us are predisposed to conflict. In fact, some of us have clashed with so many people, that we don’t really know how to live peaceably with others. I’ve known some individuals over the years that never seem happy unless they are fighting with someone.
A young daughter was working so diligently on her homework that her father became curious and asked her what she was doing. She looked up at her dad and replied, “I’m writing a report on how to bring peace to the world.” The father smiled and said, “Isn’t that a pretty big order for a little girl?” The girl continued writing as she answered, “Oh, no. Don’t worry. There are three of us in the class working on it.”
It’s easy to be naïve about peace, because it is in fact, very elusive in our church, in our relationships, in our culture, and in the world today. I recently heard about a group of people who were walking across America on a mission of peace. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get along and divided into two groups in Arkansas! That reminds me of what one person said about Christians who quarrel: “Where two or three come together in Jesus’ name…there will eventually be conflict.”
The fact that the lack of peace is so pervasive is really nothing new. We can trace it all the way back to the book of Genesis. Humans have been at war with God ever since Adam and Eve sinned. And, beginning with the conflict between Cain and Abel, which eventually led to one brother killing the other, we have been in a bombastic battle with our brothers and sisters up till now.
In the midst of this continuous conflict and incessant strife, Jesus speaks some stunning words in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” The Message paraphrase puts it this way: “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” We are to be pure before God, as we learned last week, and this beatitude challenges us to be at peace with others. Let me remind you that Jesus is not listing some optional ideas or preaching a sermon with some suggestions we might want to consider. These eight beatitudes are meant to describe the disciple of Christ and set forth the blessings that come to those who follow Him wholeheartedly.
The Bible is a book of peace as the word “peace” appears over 400 times in Scripture, with many other indirect references. Hebrews 13:20 refers to God as the “God of peace” and because this is part of His very character, He wants His people to be marked by peace as well. Isaiah 9:6 describes Jesus as the “Prince of peace.”
Before we go much further, let’s describe what biblical peace is not: