TROUBLEMAKING vs. PEACEMAKING
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:14
Peacemakers are those who actively pursue and attempt to make peace with their enemies, or, to help bring together those who are estranged. This is important work and this is hard work. But it is hard because it is easier for us to make trouble than to make peace. Our greed, outbursts of anger, selfishness, self-righteousness (etc.) make it easy for us to put ourselves over others.
Love is impossible, though, so long as one is focused on him or herself. In its essence, love is other-serving, not self-serving. It does not consider an action desirable on the basis of how it will reflect or what effect it will have on itself. It considers, rather, how it will benefit and impact the other. Love seeks peace, reconciliation, by proactively never putting any stumbling block or hindrance in someone’s path and/or by reactively removing any stumbling block or hindrance that has been put there. Therefore, peacemakers have at heart an other-regarding ethic, not a self-regarding one.
As Christians, disciples of Jesus, this ethic (rules of behavior) is not simply what we do. It’s who we are. As with the fruit of the Spirit, all the beatitudes (or blessings) are to be understood as character traits making up the whole of the character of each Christian. That is, one Christian can’t say they are called to be merciful but not a peacemaker, nor can another say they are called to be pure in heart but not meek or humble. Each Christian, by the saving, transforming, and empowering grace of God, will be the kind of person who manifests each and every one of these traits.
Therefore, we are called “sons of God,” because that is who we really are: God’s children, of God’s family, of God’s character.
KEEPING YOUR PEACE
Conflict is inevitable and inescapable. As soon as you make peace in one relationship or circumstance, it’s only a matter of time before you are confronted with the next. This shouldn’t discourage us, neither should it make us cynical.
This life is the way it is because of sin, sin being anything and everything that refuses to submit to God. Because God created the world out of his love, goodness, and wisdom, there is a harmonious way to live that he has given to humanity, a way by which we can live life as “we’ve always wanted”. But his ways have/are boundaries and constraints. Within them we could find our heart’s greatest freedom and deepest joy, but in our sin we have self-determined that God doesn’t know what is good, that our wisdom is wiser than his, that he doesn’t in fact love us because we can’t get our own way, and we have self-fashioned our own idols of freedom and joy.
As a result, breakdown and disorder follow, in creation and in the created order, in the human heart and in our relationships, in society and in our treatment of one another. We are either flat or sharp, but never in tune with God.
However, God is a God of peace (Romans 15:33), his kingdom is a kingdom of peace (Rom. 14:17), and his people are a people of peace (Rom. 12:18). Although there is always conflict, God is always actively pursuing and attempting to make peace on earth. How? Second (This is not a mistake! But it follows from the first below.), we are called to be and to bring His peace, whenever we can, into relational and social conflict.
Where do we start? Right where we are. Rather than first throwing ourselves into conflict, we must first not allow conflict to steal our peace: in our hearts, marriages, families, friendships, and churches. If we cannot keep the peace in here, then it will be impossible to make peace out there.
THE (IN)CURABLE WOUND
As Christians we believe we are called “sons of God” and peacemakers because we have peace with God. But this peace with God is not anything we have accomplished on our own, nor could ever accomplish in our own power. Rather, it has been made for us, not by a military show of strength, but by the suffering of a servant on a cross.
This is how God is first (see above) actively pursuing and attempting to make peace on earth.
There was (and is) an incurable wound in each one of our hearts — sin — and because of it we are looking for peace, for a cure, but in all the places where there is no true, lasting peace and cure. We are incurably sick and in need of a physician and healer who knows our heart.
God so loved the world that he gave his only son, Jesus, and sent him to the sick of heart. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) Jesus is our Physician and Healer. As the Suffering Servant he was pierced, crushed, wounded (Isaac 53:5) — he gave himself on the cross and died because of our sin, because he loved us.
Often we watch the horrific crimes and massacres throughout history brought on by great conflict and a lack of peace. We are moved and endure the weight of it all, yet from a distance of time and space.
When we say that Jesus died because of my sins, that is true. But Jesus also died for the sins of the world, for every human being who was and is and will be. How much more was he moved as he endured on the cross the weight of the violence, horror, pain, and suffering of each and every act of hostility ever inflicted and absorbed. He suffered the consequences of the sins of humanity not at a distance of time and space but in himself, in his very flesh.
Why did he do it? So that the incurable wound of our heart could finally and fully find its cure in him. Through his wounds we are healed — completely delivered and set free from sin. Nothing on earth or in heaven will heal your heart-wound but Jesus.
PEACE IS A PERSON
Do you see it, then? Do you see him? Peace isn’t a thing or a thought or a feeling. Peace is a Person. All things on earth and in heaven are now reconciled in Jesus, to Jesus. In his death all hostility was killed. By his blood he has made a living, everlasting peace. And because he lives one day every conflict will be ended, everything broken will be made new, and everything sad will come untrue. Jesus Christ is our peace.