Friday, August 29, 2008

Matthew 5:9 Children of peace in a world of strife

Particularly in an election year, people are prone to debate. You’ll see all sorts of local and national campaign advertisements where candidates impugn the character of their opponents as well as debates where politicians try to prove that they can talk for extended periods of time without saying a doggone thing. It seems even in the Christian community people catch the political bug. While I would certainly affirm that as citizens of this country we should vote our biblical convictions I think we would do well to remember that our God has not called us to live in constant contention with other people. In fact, as we observe in this verse, the Lord has called us to live in peace.

We see in verse 9 that Christ describes someone as being spiritually happy (“Blessed”) who is a “peacemaker”. Rather than being a source of strife and contention, a person who is called “blessed” lives in peace. In a world like the one we live in, this is certainly a difficult beatitude to live out. I believe scripture mandates, however, that we should live the truth of this beatitude not only in our relationships with others but also in our ministry.

First of all, we should live at peace with other people. In one sense, this is a passive activity. When we are attacked or provoked, when should remember how much our Lord has forgiven us for (v. 7) and then make the choice to react in a manner that exemplifies peace. For instance, as Paul writes in Romans 12:18 “18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Other people can vilify us and attempt to draw us into conflict. When they do, we can choose to draw upon the power of God’s Holy Spirit and respond peacefully. Also, we should follow the biblical example of interceding to bring peace where we can. For example, Paul wrote the letter of Philemon for the express purpose of reconciling the run-away slave Onesimus to his former master. He knew the penalty the law imposed on run away slaves and he also knew that Onesimus had wronged Philemon. However, he made it his business to intercede and make peace on behalf of Onesimus with Philemon. Further, in the book of Philippians, Paul writes to encourage the church to intercede in a dispute between two Christian women. He writes in chapter 4 verses 2 and 3 “2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” While both of these examples involve Christians, we can and I believe should take opportunities to intercede in conflicts when we have an appropriate occasion to make peace where we can.

Further, I believe our role as peacemakers should influence our ministry. Obviously, we cannot save anyone. There is only one mediator between God and man and that is our Lord (1 Timothy 2:5). Further, we know that in Christ, God made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:19 “19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” However, the verse doesn’t end their. Yes, God has done the work through Christ Jesus but, as Paul continues, “He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” We are called, therefore, to take the message that God forgives sinners when they repent of their sins to this whole world. In that sense, we are bringing them to peace with God by announcing that He has made that peace available.

By doing this, we will be identified as “sons of God”. We don’t take this title for ourselves. Just as God announced that Jesus was His Son when Jesus was baptized, we will be recognized as God’s children. It will probably not be proclaimed with a loud voice from heaven while we live on this earth. However, I believer people will recognize the manner in which we live—that we live as peacemakers. We will then have the chance to witness to the life changing power of our Lord. Also, when this life is over we will be welcomed in as joint heirs with Jesus into heaven. There, it will truly be proclaimed that we are “sons of God”. Praise God for His Holy Spirit that allows us to live in a world of strife as peacemakers.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


vincit omnia veritas said...

How appropriate!

Isn't this especially so in the blogosphere?

In fact, I agree that this beatitude is one of the most difficult to "demonstrate." It involves:

1) Destroying/quenching one's pride
2) Turning the other cheek
3) Handling controversies and disagreements in a way that runs contrary to the flesh e.g. instead of being defensive, try to accept wrong; when slandered, express love ... then speak in a way consistent with that love etc etc

We ought to be peacemakers with others, and for others.

And may we demonstrate this "trait" or fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Thanks for the post, brother.


Joe Blackmon said...

Quite true, brother. Thank you for the encouragement and insight.