Blessed are the peacemakers
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God."
This week we celebrated peace at the end of World War II, specifically the victory over Japan on August 15, 1945.
Also this week, with USA help, a new peace accord was established between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Humanity has a strong impulse for peace.
We yearn for peace. Ironically, we often turn to violence to demand or to enforce peace. This is the nature of the forceful drive for peace embedded in humankind. We know that we want peace. We know that we do not have peace.
Our attempts at peace often fall short because the peace that this world has to offer is at its best an approximation for what God intends for us. Even worse, the peace of this world can be a counterfeit solution that leads to further waste and ruin - i.e. no peace at all.
God said it this way through the prophet Ezekiel:
“My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. “ ‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall.”
(Ezekiel 13:9–11, NIV)
The peace of this world, which leaves God out of the process is like a flimsy, whitewashed wall that is destined to fall.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
(John 14:27, NIV)
Jesus tells us that the peace he gives us is not like the peace this world gives. How does the world give peace? Let me share with you four descriptors of how we make peace as humans. These are my observations. Therefore, the are neither complete nor infallible.
The world gives us peace that is . . .
The peace of this world will only hold for a while. We regularly see the temporary nature of human peace making happening at the international, national, community, church, and family levels. We think we reach some level of peace. Then, an offense occurs, and hostility breaks out again. The peace the world give is . . .
Temporary peace is often transactional in nature. Transactional peace takes the form of "You do that and I'll do this." When "this" or "that" fails to happen, hostility breaks out again. The peace the world gives is often . . .
Imposed and Enforced
Imposition and enforcement of peace often occur together. In a war scenario the victor sets the terms of peace. These terms are imposed on the loser because the loser no longer has the will or resources to continue the fight.
Imposition happens not only in wartime. We see it happen in local governments, in our workplaces, in churches, and in families. One person or group accumulates enough power to sustain a fight indefinitely and the other party or parties lose the will or lack the resources to continue the fight. Peace is then imposed. Once an imposed peace is in place, often an occupying force is left in place to enforce the peace. Occupying forces can be something other than an army. Stacking the leadership of an organization with persons who will follow the dictates of the person or persons in power without questioning the ethical implications of those directives is an occupying force. Leveraging sex, anger, or finances over a spouse to maintain the control a person enjoys over the other spouse is an occupying force. Often to obtain peace we use . . .
Development Projects and Charity as Incentives
We do good things in the hopes of creating the conditions for peace. The Peace Corps would be a good example on the positive side. Doing good with the expectation or requirement that the other party will acquiesce to our vision of peace is an example of the negative side.
These descriptions of human peacemaking can be negative. However, these forms of peace making can be positive. A temporary peace can be better than no peace. Peace achieved by transaction, imposition and enforcement, or development and charity can be what is possible to achieve, and from a human perspective, obtain the goal of ceasing hostilities.
The difference between peacemaking being negative or positive often depends on the motivations of our heart.
Christian peacemaking flows from God's Good heart.
Our Heavenly Father designed humans and the world for real peace - for shalom. Shalom is far more than an absence of hostility or stress.
Shalom is complete well-being & prosperity. Well-being in every area of life.
This definition is important. I encourage you to write it down so you can refer to it as I read Scriptures that use it. In the following Bible verses, I use the original word “shalom” instead of its English translation “peace.” Hear God's heart of peace for us:
“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with shalom.”
(Psalm 29:11, NIV)
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of shalom be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in shalom; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
(Isaiah 55:12, NIV)
“All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their shalom.”
(Isaiah 54:13, NIV)
“Shalom, shalom, to those far and near,” says the Lord.
(Isaiah 57:19, NIV)
If this is the heart of God toward us, where is our shalom?
Why do we still ache in our souls for shalom?
There may be a variety of secondary reasons that we do not have peace. However, the fundamental reason is that we brought the lack of peace on ourselves. Our father Adam and mother Eve did not trust God's goodness. They believed the devil's lie that God was holding back on them and limiting their access to full shalom. Why is there no peace in our world, in our souls? We still have this nagging suspicion that we cannot trust God to deliver all the wellbeing and prosperity he promises. Abandoning trust, patience, and the long view of God's purposes, we strike out in search of the good that God is withholding from us. Living as if God is not perfectly good, as if God is not completely committed to our wellbeing and prosperity flows from the wickedness of our hearts.
““There is no shalom,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.””
(Isaiah 48:22, NIV)
The blessing of God is that he convicts us of the spiritual poverty of our wickedness, causes us to mourn our wickedness, leads us to acknowledge our meekness, which is our helplessness to do anything about our wickedness. Hunger and thirst for righteousness knaws at our soul driving us to reach out for a pure heart in exchange for our wicked heart . . . and then we experience shalom.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Shalom. Of the greatness of his government and shalom there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
(Isaiah 9:6–7, NIV)
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us shalom was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
(Isaiah 53:5, NIV)
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
(2 Corinthians 5:19, NIV)
Reconciling relationships means to restore someone to favorable or friendly relations with another party after a presumed wrong. In other words, reconciling hostile parties is peacemaking. Through the sacrifice of his own Son, our heavenly Father takes the punishment of our evil, our wrongdoing within his own being to restore to us shalom.
In the Old Testament, God’s people brought peace offerings to atone for their sins and restore fellowship with God. Shalom is the result of being in covenant with God. Sin disrupts shalom. Fellowship occurs in the restoration of shalom between God and his people. The burnt sacrifice for the peace offering was the only sacrifice where a part offering devoted to God and the priests and worshipers together ate the remaining offering. The peace offering was a celebration, a religious party, where priests and worshipers enjoyed delicious meal in the presence of God.
The Good News, the Gospel is that God himself has set the table for the party, God has made the peace offering to atone for our sins and restore our fellowship with Him.
Jesus the Son of God is our peace offering!
The peace offering of Jesus went beyond satisfying the Father's wrath against our sin by also overcoming our hostility toward God. Paul puts it this way in Romans 5.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
(Romans 5:1, NIV)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:8–10, NIV)
How does Jesus give peace that is not like the world?
The peace Jesus gives flows from the good and pure character of God.
Selfish or wicked intent cannot motivate God’s acts of peace.
The peace Jesus gives is a gift.
No required transaction exists in the offer.
Jesus gives us eternal peace.
It will never fail; it will never end.
We accept the gift of Jesus’ peace voluntarily.
Jesus neither imposes nor enforces peace upon us. Those of us in Christ are drawn, compelled, and predestined to peace. Yet, at the level of conscious experience, we choose to voluntarily accept and to remain in the peace Jesus presents to us.
Peace begins for us when we accept God's peace offering. Then, in Christ, . . .
We become the peace of God in the world.
People know us as the children of God when we bring peace in this world.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
(2 Corinthians 5:19–20, NIV)
We become the peace of God in the world in three ways. This is the application of today’s message. First . . .
we verbally proclaim and teach that real peace comes by accepting God's gift of shalom, which is complete wholeness is every area of life - through faith in Jesus Christ. Second,
we actively work for harmonious relations between opposing parties.
According to the biblical sense of a peacemaker that is what God calls his children to do. Looking deeper into the meaning of peacemaker, we find that it means a person who is in relationship with another person. The motivation of Christian peacemaking is that we want more than a stop to hostile behavior. For all the parties involved we want shalom. We want for the parties involved solutions that better their wellbeing and prosperity. As peacemakers, we are in relationship with these parties, and we care about them. Third . . .
we make peace by the nature of who we are in Christ.
As the life of Jesus grows in us, the peace of Christ will naturally flow through us to others. The peace of Christ will come through in whatever situation we find ourselves in. Therefore, while we should always be sensitive to and pursue the opportunities God brings to us to make peace, we should not fret about if we are doing enough to bring peace. If we are disciples of Jesus, his peace will naturally flow through us.
When people, non-Christians and Christians, hear us telling the story of God restoring his shalom to us through the sacrifice of his son Jesus, when they see us actively working for harmonious relationships, and when they experience God’s peace flowing from us to them, deep down in their souls they know we are children of God. They know because the peace flowing through our lives is not of this world. The peace that we enjoy and the peace that we make is a heavenly peace flowing from our Peacemaker God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called
the children of God."
 Futato, Mark D. CM328 Preaching the Psalms (Videos). Logos Mobile Education. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.
 Faithlife Corporation. “To Reconcile (hostilities).” Logos Bible Software, Computer software. Logos Bible Software Bible Sense Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife Corporation, August 14, 2020.
 Groves, J. A. (2001). Foreword. In T. Longman III & J. A. Groves (Eds.), Immanuel in Our Place: Seeing Christ in Israel’s Worship (p. 90). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
 Myers, A. C. (1987). In The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (p. 875). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
 Faithlife Corporation. “Peacemaker.” Logos Bible Software, Computer software. Logos Bible Software Bible Sense Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife Corporation, August 13, 2020. https://ref.ly/logos4/Senses?KeyId=ws.peacemaker.n.01.