Summary: 7th sermon in an 8 part series on the Beatitudes. This series challenges us to "Shift" our thinking in what really brings true happiness. (*Rewritten and refreshed in 8/08 - Powerpoint and Video Clips available on request.)
THE BRIDGE BUILDERS
INTRODUCTION: (:33 intro)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of my all time favorite movies. I wasn’t alone in liking it. The film won four academy awards and was nominated as Best Picture in 1970. It’s ranked as one of the top 150 movies on several motion picture sites. Part of the popularity of the film was the difference between Sundance and Butch. The Sundance Kid was a notorious gunslinger and likes to fight his way through differences. While Butch was more of the peacemaker.
Video Clip: Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid: Start: Chp. 3: 5:20 - Stop: Chp. 3: 8:38 = 3:18
How are you at sowing seeds of peace? Most of us will not be called on to ward off a gunfight, or for that matter any physical encounter, and I really doubt you’ll be tempted, like in our drama, to purchase confrontational insults from the “Sticks and Stones.” But, here’s what we have been called to do and according to the Bible it is vital and significant in God’s sight: we are to bring peace to troubled hearts. Our world is in need of peacemakers. For there is conflict between spouses, between parents and children, between races, between nations even between those who call themselves Christians. So Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God."
I hope you’ve kept up with the building progression that Jesus has laid out in His beatitudes. (1) First, he told us we must see our need, that we are not good but "poor in spirit." (2) He told us that after seeing our sin we need to "mourn" over it. We discover gladness when we leave the prison of pride and repent of our rebellion. Sorrow is followed by (3) "meekness." The meek are those who are amazed that God would save them, and even more surprised that God would use them. The meek don’t tell God how to conduct, they simply surrender themselves as instruments and are thrilled to be a part of the concert. The result of the first 3 steps? (4) Hunger. For, maybe the first time in your life you are addicted to something positive. And you want more. Then (5) comes "mercy." The more you realize you have received, the more you want to give. You discover the joy not just in God’s forgiveness but in forgiving others. A sacred delight has been placed in your heart and you know that the One who made you can also purify you- that’s the (6) step, to be "pure in heart," clean from the inside out. Now, and only now, are you ready to take action. See, you cannot help others find peace if you do not have it yourself. The first six beatitudes encouraged us to right attitudes, and once we have the right attitude, Jesus can stimulate us to right action. To be God’s emissaries. To help others to be at peace with God, at peace with their fellow man and to have peace in their hearts. When we do that, Jesus says we most resemble God, we become "sons of God," chips off the old block. For after all, as it says in Eph. 2:15-16 - "Jesus brought all of us together as though we were only one person, when he united us in peace. 16On the cross Christ did away with our hatred for each other. He also made peace between us and God." (CEV) Since Jesus has provided peace for us through the cross He now says that we are to take the action of being like Him, a peace maker. So, let’s look closely this morning at the divine task He’s given us.
I. THE DEFINITION:
As in the other beatitudes, understanding exactly what Jesus means here is paramount. Just before Jesus left to ascend to Heaven, He said in Jn 14:27- "I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives."(NLT) Because His peace is different then what the world offers, we need to clear up some misconceptions about peace making.
First of all, peace making is NOT simply the absence of strife. The world thinks of peace simply as a situation where conflict ceases, whether that be between nations or people. But that peace is temporary, incomplete, shallow because it does nothing to give lasting peace for the heart. The peace that Jesus offers not only includes the ceasing of bad things happening but promotes good things occurring in its place. God told the people in Micah 4:3- "They’ll trade their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes."(MSG) They were not to simply stop the strife but to turn their instruments of conflict into tools of productivity. Peace is not just negative, bad things stopping, but positive, good things occurring. Peace making is not just the absence of strife.