Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. (NIV)
A lot of people just want some peace… peace of mind, peace in their families and at their workplaces, and peace in their nation and in the world. Racing thoughts, disharmony at home, conflict on the job, constant national disturbances, and the wars, takeovers, coups, assassinations, and oppressive regimes of the world sometimes might lead us to believe there might never be peace – either in our personal lives or on this earth.
What is peace?
Peace is not merely the absence of conflict. It is harmony with God, others, and self. To be at peace involves more than simply getting along with others or being able to sleep at night. Peace involves wholeness and integrity, having unity of mind and purpose, so that people can live beyond surviving to thriving and flourishing in settled peaceful relationships.
How does peace happen?
For peace to be truly realized, there needs to be a peacemaker. Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker. He achieved peace by provoking and challenging the establishment. Jesus brought on conflict in order to bring real and lasting peace.
The cross of Christ became an act of subversion to the existing religious system. Jesus championed the common good of all through his death. The violence of the cross brought the serenity of peace. Christ has abolished all barriers and divisions so that people can come to God and come together.
So, remember that once you were Gentiles by physical descent, who were called “uncircumcised” by Jews who are physically circumcised. At that time, you were without Christ. You were aliens rather than citizens of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of God’s promise. In this world you had no hope and no God. But now, thanks to Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God.
When he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and to those who were near. We both have access to the Father through Christ by the one Spirit. So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people, and you belong to God’s household. As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22, CEB)
Peace has been accomplished through Christ. We now are to live into that peace by being peacemakers. So, how do we do that?
What characterizes a peacemaker?
Peacemakers demonstrate and show how to relate to God and others because they know the process of being humbled before God and being filled with righteousness. Peace doesn’t just happen. It must be attended to and cultivated.
- Peacemakers don’t merely try to smooth things over but actively promote and put energy into unity and harmony.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-6, NIV)
- Peacemakers are careful to not use their speech for gossip or slander but help others with forgiveness issues.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32, MSG)
- Peacemakers do not create problems but purposefully facilitate all around good relations by seeking to listen and understand, then gently applying truth.
Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11, NRSV)
- Peacemakers do not avoid conflict but seek reconciliation.
God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit.If you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be respected by people. We should try to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith. (Romans 14:17-19, CEV)
- Peacemakers do not keep quiet but spread the gospel because they know that through Jesus there is true harmony between God and people.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1, NIV)
- Peacemakers will be called “children of God” because their character reflects the character of God.
Jesus said, “I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” (John 14:27, MSG)
- Peacemakers do not encourage divisions between people but promote and enable relational connections which foster everyone getting their needs met.
When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice. (James 3:18, CEV)
- Peacemakers don’t give up but continually keep making peace.
Stop doing what is wrong and do good. Look for peace and do all you can to help people live peacefully. (1 Peter 3:11, ERV)
Peacemakers are people who occupy a middle space between persons or groups at odds with each other. They desire to live righteously with the mercy and purity God has provided for them.
People dedicated to peacemaking understand there is so little peace in this world because there are so few peacemakers. There are so few peacemakers because so many people in this world have not availed themselves of God’s justice and righteousness.
And precious few people have availed themselves of God’s righteousness because there are so few truly humble people. There are so few humble persons because, so few individuals realize their poverty of spirit.
In order to achieve peace, one must first be at peace with God. This is why we desperately need the cross of Jesus Christ because through his blood peace has been achieved. There is now no wall of separation because Christ’s cross has torn it down.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (1 Corinthians 13:11, NIV)
*Above painting by Hyatt Moore