Summary: We may bge used of God to bring peace to others. When we share the gift of peace with others, conflict may be transformed into harmony.
Title: The Sharing Choice
Text: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
Thesis: We may be used of God to bring peace to others. When we share the gift of peace with others conflict may be transformed into harmony.
Series: Life’s Healing Choices (Saddleback Resources)
In his reflections on the original meaning of the word peace in the Greek and Hebrews languages that would have been familiar to Jesus’ listeners, William Barclay understood peace to infer three things:
1. Peace was understood as what makes for the world being a better place for all people. In other words a peacemaker was someone who made the world a better place for all of us to live in.
2. Peace was also understood to refer to the inner peace of a person who had made peace with himself, so to speak. The peacemaker in this instance had dealt with the spiritual conflicts in his inner life and was now at peace with himself and God.
3. Peace was also understood as what we call right relationships between people. So a peacemaker was someone who helps resolve conflicts and establish right relationships or harmony between people. (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, Westminster Press, PP. 109-110)
It is this third understanding of peace and the makers of peace that Jesus likely had in mind when he spoke the words, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”
Given the nature of the world in which we live… the likelihood of harmony existing between everyone on the planet seems somewhat removed. However, despite our efforts to teach children early that we all have to learn to play in the same sandbox… the lesson generally gives way as we get older.
Despite the rancor and incivility we are currently experiencing in regard to Health Care reform, there have been more divisive times in our country when men, violently at odds, behaved civilly. On April 9, 1865, after four years of Civil War, more than 63,000 deaths, and over a million casualties, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at a farmhouse near Appomattox. They met, they talked like friends before General Lee, feeling a bit uncomfortable, brought up the terms of surrender. Grant explained the terms, and Lee asked if his men could keep their horses, explaining that they would need them for farming after the war. Grant agreed and when he learned that Lee’s army had been without rations for several days, arranged for food to be sent to the hungry men. The terms of the surrender were so cordial that some referred to it as “The Gentlemen’s Agreement.” Grant and Lee were peacemakers during a very contentious time in our country. Apparently the spirit of good will has not carried over to today. The Southern Legal Resource Center is urging southerners to declare themselves Confederate Southern Americans when they complete their 2010 census forms. On line 9 where we are asked for our race they are asked to check “Other” and write in “Confederate Southern American.”
However, despite all the identifying distinctions and differences of opinion among us, Jesus is a peacemaker. In Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11, Jesus absolutely levels the playing field welcoming everyone into his tent, so to speak. “All,” according to scripture, “are one in Christ.”
Jesus is a peacemaker. You could arguably say that Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. Romans 5:1 states that we have been justified through faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus has brought peace to the hearts and lives of many people around the world over the centuries. In John 14:27 he told his disciples that he was giving them a peace unlike any peace the world could give. And now in our text he states that those who are engaged in the work of peacemaking are blessed people who are doing a god-like work.
So if peacemaking is an activity blessed by God… what are peacemakers like and what do they do?
I. Peacemakers desire peace.
Quoting from the Psalm 34, Peter wrote in his epistle, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.” I Peter 3:10-11
The making of peace is one of the most daunting tasks in the world. It is huge and it looms large. However, we could argue that it would be easier to negotiate world peace than get Americans to agree on Health Care reform. Perhaps the Health Care debate is a perfect example of why we can never expect people to play peaceably in the same sandbox. .