Summary: Jesus didn’t call us to be a peacekeeper, the principal indentity of a Christian is as a "Peacemaker."

#9 of Sermon on the Mount series

Preached April 28, 2002

Parkview Church of the Nazarene

Mobile, AL

J. Richard Lord, Jr.

Peacekeeper or Peacemaker?

Matthew 5:9

In 1873, Samuel Colt introduced a pistol that was named “The Peacekeeper.” Because of its simple design, and the use of shell cartridges rather than older style loaders, anyone could learn to use this weapon. It was easy to load and the graduated sight made it simple to aim and fire. It was said that God made every man different but Sam Colt made them equal. The concept being that a larger, stronger man could no longer overpower a smaller, weaker man with impunity. What formerly depended on strength now depended on speed and accuracy.

In November of 1982, President Ronald Reagan dubbed the new mobile M-X missile “The Peacekeeper.” This missile, because of mobility and more modern guidance systems, would be a great deterrent to foreign aggression.

It is interesting that these references are made to weapons. In fact, if you make an internet search with the word “peacekeeper,” most of the references are to weapons, soldiers, wars, and the preventing of such thereof.

If a person is going to set about keeping the peace, it is evident that he or she is going to need weapons. Sometimes the more, the better. It appears that “peacekeeping” is at best, a stopgap measure that is fraught with danger. History has shown that most peacekeeping efforts have had only mixed results and by and large have failed.

In the over 3100 years of recorded world history, the world has only been at peace 8% of the time or a total of 286 years and 8000 treaties have been made and broken.

It appears that “peacekeeping” does not work very well. Not only does “peacekeeping” not offer any solutions to the conflict, quite often the “peacekeeper” themselves get shot.

What most people do not seem to understand is that peace is not something that can be imposed from the outside. You cannot “keep” a peace that isn’t there.

John MacArthur says, “A truce just says you don’t shoot for awhile. Peace comes when the truth is known, the issue is settled, and the parties embrace each other.”

This is the reason that Jesus, in this verse, did not use the word, “peacekeeper,” he used the word, “peacemaker.” There is a world of difference.

A peacekeeper is a person who enforces, by whatever means, by force of personality or by superior weapons, a truce. A peacemaker is one who actually discovers the origin of the conflict, and finds a way to resolve it, and helps the parties to restore a proper, loving relationship. This applies to individuals or nations. He or she actually “makes” or “constructs” peace.

In Europe, 1934, Hitler’s plague if anti-Semitism was infecting a continent. Some would escape it. Some would die from it. But eleven-year-old Heinz would learn from it. He would learn the power of sowing seeds of peace.

Heinz was a Jew. The Bavarian village of Fourth, where Heinz lived, was being overrun by Hitler’s young thugs. Heinz’s father, a schoolteacher, lost his job. Recreational activities ceased. Tension mounted on the streets. The Jewish families clutched the traditions that held them together-the observance of the Sabbath, of Posh Hashanah, of Yom Kippur. Old ways took on new significance. As the clouds of persecution swelled and blackened, these ancient precepts were a precious cleft in a mighty rock. And as the streets became a battleground, such security meant survival.

Hitler’s youth roamed the neighborhoods looking for trouble. Young Heinz learned to keep his eyes open. When he saw a band of troublemakers, he would step to the other side of the street. Sometimes he would escape a fight - sometimes not.

One day, in 1934, a pivotal confrontation occurred. Heinz found himself face-to-face with a Hitler bully. A beating appeared inevitable. This time, however, he walked away unhurt - not because of what he did, but because of what he said. He didn’t fight back; he spoke up. He convinced the troublemakers that a fight was not necessary. His words kept battle at bay.

And Heinz saw first hand how the tongue can create peace. He learned the skill of using words to avoid conflict. And for a young Jew in Hitler-ridden Europe, that skill had many opportunities to be honed.

Fortunately, Heinz’s family escaped from Bavaria and made their way to America. Later in life, he would downplay the impact those adolescent experiences had on his development.

But one has to wonder. For after Heinz grew up, his name became synonymous with peace negotiations. His legacy became that of a bridge builder. Somewhere he had learned the power of the properly placed word of peace. And one has to wonder if his training didn’t come on the streets of Bavaria.

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Jason Baker

commented on Oct 21, 2008

Thank you for the helpful stories and ideas.

Mike Gilbert

commented on Sep 7, 2009

excellent content. good illustrations. excellent teaching.

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