Text: Matthew 5:9; Luke 6:36; Hebrews 12:14-15
Do you know anyone you would describe as a peacemaker? It takes a special personality and temperament. You have to be able to understand both sides of an argument. If you are mediating between people or parties, each has to believe that you understand them and aren’t going to betray them. I have one friend named Sarah who does this for a living – and a calling – and she has the gifts for it. I have witnessed her bring peace between groups; she not only uses good techniques and her own gifts, but very intentionally invites God’s Holy Spirit into the process where that is welcomed. It can be even harder if you are making peace between yourself and another person.
Today we are continuing in our series which focuses on blessings God gives that we are to pass on. We’ll look at both halves of the blessing in Matthew 5:9 and then consider how God is inviting us to bless someone this week.
The first thing I’d note about making peace is how it seems to contrast the purity we looked at last week. I realized that it forms a balanced pair with purity in the same way that righteousness (v.6) and mercy (v.7) did. Just as mercy doesn’t mean saying “no big deal,” but acknowledging the weight of what is just and right, so also peace can’t just be “everything is fine here.” It has to acknowledge the distance between people or parties in order to create a meaningful bridge or pathway between them.
Consider our other scriptures for today. In Luke 6:35 Jesus teaches the challenging “love your enemies.” Just before that he says, “It’s not hard to love those who love you or do good to those who do good to you.” That’s not making peace; that’s reciprocating like for like. But loving enemies requires an intentional act, a healing act, a peacemaking act.
In Hebrews 12:14-15 we heard this challenge: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy.” There we see the tight bond between peace and purity, translated here as “being holy.” In fact, I used part of the verse last week because it ties together being holy and pure with seeing God, just as last week’s blessing. And peace is in close proximity in Hebrews, too, because holiness and peace are not opposites, but part of the same Christ-like attitude, just as righteousness and mercy are. Hebrews warns of the consequences of not making peace; bitterness can grow up in that space between folks, not only making peace more difficult, but often hurting or dividing others in collateral damage.
Is there someone with whom you need to make peace? Lots of divisive words have been spoken around the election this week, not just nationally, but between friends and family. How can you seek peace, even in disagreement? That’s the challenge. And therein lies a blessing.
Children of God
Jesus says that peacemakers will be blessed; they will be called children of God. Luke records that in the “love your enemies” passage as well… “your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” That’s interesting… the reason for being a peacemaker, for loving enemies, is that it’s what God is like. Imagine that – children being like their Father in Heaven!
If you need some words to move in that direction, consider the way we passed the peace today. I adapted the “Prayer for Jerusalem” found in Psalm 122. Not only do we pray for peace, but it is for the sake of my family and my friends. And for the sake of the house of the Lord, I will seek your good. That’s what Jesus taught about peace: it is doing good and loving those who are distanced from you or from each other. Peace seeks restoration; peace seeks the good. It does not have to compromise what is pure and holy; in fact, Jesus seems to say that it will not… it is an expression of what is pure and holy. But notice the language of Psalm 122… it is FOR THE SAKE OF… not ourselves, but the other. It is something we seek, with God’s help.
So, the blessing challenge seems obvious this week: make peace with someone you need to make peace with. It doesn’t mean disregarding or diminishing what’s between you. But for the sake of the other and perhaps some who have experienced collateral harm; seek peace. You can’t make it happen, but you can seek it and do the work you can do.
And Jesus says peacemakers will be called children of God. I don’t know if that means others will see that you are emulating your Heavenly Father or if YOU will realize you are pleasing your Heavenly Father… or probably both. But that’s the blessing. Like some previous weeks, you start with blessing someone else and you will realize that you are also blessed.
May God help you and me experience this blessing, particularly in this difficult week. Amen.
Some Music Used
- Peace I Give to You – choir
- No Longer Slaves – worship team
- Closer Walk – Rick Bean, piano
- It is Well (Bethel) – worship team