Summary: It is the believer's responsibility to live at peace with others as far as is possible.
The Importance of Peacemakers
Though America is a peace-loving nation, our nation and world have known little peace. The terrorist attack on New York and Washington, D. C. in September of 2001-and the long war on terror that resulted, is evidence of how quickly peace can escape us. America was not bothering anyone, but terrorists infiltrated our country and destroyed our peace and sense of safety.
This search for peace has been going on since time immortal. Many long for peace in their lives and peace in the world. The famous answer of beauty contest participants when asked what they want is, “World Peace.” Witness the number of people who take their lives, have continual marital or other family problems, visit psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors, and we can readily determine that there is a lack of peace in many people’s lives.
Though the crime rate is falling in some areas and in some states, the crime rate is still enormously high. Prisons are full and overcrowded which leads to criminals being released early or even avoiding jail time. There is a great deal of instability in our country and world.
Some years ago a major newspaper reported that since 36 years prior to Christ and until 1968 there had been 14,553 known wars. Since 1945, there have been 70 or more wars and some 200 outbreaks of violence. In our own country, we have fought a Civil War, two world wars, a Korean War, a Vietnam War and a Persian Gulf War. We are now fighting an elusive war with terrorists. In 1992/93, we watched warlords starve the people of Somalia. As much as we desire peace, it seems to continually escape our grasp.
While many people want peace, we seem to live in a society that applauds violence. I admire the reaction to the 2001 terrorist bombing in America, but I fear that many did not think much about it because we are so desensitized to violence. We live with it as a way of life. We see it on the television and on movies. The more violence the show contains, the better we like it and the more Americans watch it. Violent video games make good sellers.
The ancient Romans did not think much of meekness or having a gentle spirit. We too seem to think like that in spite of the fact that it is highly praised by God. We like the picture of the tough, rugged individual who takes nothing from anyone. We have promoted a selfish, cruel and aggressive attitude, and we are reaping the consequences.
Yet Jesus teaches that peace is to be our pursuit. He wants us to pursue peace and to be peacemakers. It is a further step we must take if we are to know true happiness in life.
God’s Word gives a picture of peace at the very beginning and at the very end. In the Garden of Eden, the first humans lived in a very peaceful environment. When we look at the end as it is described in the Book of Revelation, we find that the end of time will again signal a time of peace. But in the in between times, there will be wars and violence. There is no peace because of sin in the world and because of sin in people’s lives.
Jesus reminds us that we must be peacemakers not peace takers. This is not accomplished by trying to escape the world. We can’t do that. It is accomplished by confronting these difficult situations and looking for peaceful solutions. As we try to bring outward peace, we also demonstrate to others the inner peace we have found in Christ.
UNDERSTAND JESUS’ MEANING OF PEACE
We have already studied the need of having a righteous lifestyle. When we live according to that dictate we will find and bring this peace that Christ speaks of. We must strive for the goodness of Christ to characterize our lives.
Jews greet others with the word “shalom.” It carries the idea that individuals have all the peace and goodness that God can give them. So when Jesus tells us to be peacemakers, he is telling us to establish love and harmony between individuals. He wants us to be involved in resolving wrong attitudes and actions.
The writer of Hebrews said, “Make every effort to live in peace with all people and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (12:14)
Peace can only result in our lives and between others and us when our lives are characterized by the holiness of God. Otherwise, we will stir up strife and react with vengeance and retaliation. We can only imagine what a greater measure of peace would result in our world if all our leaders were first of all Christians and then if they understood Jesus’ meaning of being peacemakers. This Beatitude builds on the previous one. Only as we are pure in heart can we be peacemakers. Only then will we see the need of being peacemakers.