Please find below my teaching notes for Pt. 8 of the series, “BE: The Kingdom Here and Now- Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on the Beatitudes, where Jesus describes how to live the best life possible and to BE people with access to the Kingdom of God, here and now, in our present moments. Again, Jesus talks about the “poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, and the pure in heart…”
And in Matt. 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
Jesus doesn’t call us to be stone throwers but to be peacemakers. Regrettably the church has become know for throwing stones and not making peace!
The Nobel Prize organization has awarded 93 Nobel Peace Prizes since 1901, the most recent one in 2012 going to the European Union, for their working in “solving problems.” The Peace Prize is, according Alfred Nobel’s will, dedicated to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Basically, it’s awarded to those deemed “peacemakers!” Although the recipient receives a medal and $1.2 million dollars, none to date have been called a “son of God!”
Jesus certainly qualifies for the term and perhaps that’s what makes him most qualified to use the term to refer to those who would be “peacemakers!”
But, before we unpack this idea of BEING a PEACEMAKER, we need to understand the consideration of BEING a SON/DAUGHTER of GOD!
BEING a Son of God!
This term was not alien to Jesus’ listeners since they understood it well from the influence of Greek and Roman mythology. The Roman rulers were referred to as “gods” and “sons of gods” etc. In mythology Apollo was the “son” of Zeus, Eros was the “son” of Aphrodite, and Pan was the “son” of Hermes, etc. So, culturally there was a context for this term- “sons of God” considering the pantheon of gods the Greeks and Romans worshipped, etc.
BUT it did NOT work for the Hebrews in attendance that day because they had one God and they did NOT know about His Son! We look back and we see Jesus as the Son of God, but they did not have this perspective. To the Hebrews, Jesus claiming the title, “Son of God” was heresy and blasphemy! Perhaps that’s why in so many places in the Gospels Jesus is referred to as “teacher”, “rabbi”, even “prophet”, but not as “Son of God!”
They had NO CLUE about Jesus in this respect– not even the disciples! No one was thinking that God would become a Man! That the Creator of the universe would step into the world he had created as flesh and blood! That the eternal God would limit himself by time and space! That Jesus would be the “Son of God!” This was way out of the realm of possibilities and way beyond their comprehension. They could not see what we can see! They simply did not have the “ending” yet!
So, there are two big surprises here! 1) That Jesus IS the Son of God and 2) They too, could BE the “sons and daughters of God!” Jesus is telling them that day that they were not created to be outcasts, orphans, oppressed… they were created to BE the sons/daughters of God!
What Jesus is referring to, to “BE the sons of God” was about BEING a PEACEMAKER- that this was the characteristic that would most define those who would BE the “sons/daughters of God!”
BEING a Peacemaker!
Being a “peacemaker” in terms of being identified as a “son of God” was a very different picture than what those hearing Jesus had been exposed to- to be “divine” or someone who claimed divinity in their cultural and spiritual climate meant taking privilege NOT being a peacemaker!
And Jesus wants them and us to know that to BE like God means you “MAKE” peace! It doesn’t mean you get to be omnipotent, or omniscient, or omnipresent! The things we would want to be if we could be “like God!” Instead, as “sons/daughters of God” our life calling is to BE a Peacemaker!
Here’s a big key: It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, teacher, banker, engineer, stay at home mom, or student, or… Jesus is saying that IF you embrace this identity for yourself- a “son/daughter of God” then your life is to MAKE PEACE!
You’d think this would be easy, but it’s really not. Even Jesus said there would be “wars, rumors of wars, strife, persecution…” We live in a world filled with violence, hatred, disputes, and division. This is regrettably the fallen human condition and that’s why it’s all the more important that if you want to BE considered the children of the One and Only True God then BE MAKERS of PEACE!
How Do You MAKE Peace?
A common characteristic of those who can MAKE things is there is a creative process they pursue that comes from way down deep inside! You often SEE it before you MAKE it! (Mark Donelson and his plans for the coffee bar in the foyer- the plans are in his head!)
When Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the sons of God” he’s not talking about a technique you use or a seminar you attend! This is NOT a skill to be developed but a characteristic of the person we are MADE to BE! “Makers of Peace” are NOT those who have learned a negotiation process but those who bring peace with them!
How many of you know people who MAKE problems and conflict?? That every time they show up they bring problems and NOT peace! They always want to pick a fight or have something to fight about. They’re always contentious, want to debate, disagree, and argue. They think the world is full of conflict and that everyone wants to fight and debate and war! They bring stress into the room- you don’t even want to ask them how they’re doing because they’re just waiting for the invitation to unload! Everything is bad, yesterday was bad, today is worse, tomorrow… They show up where you work, at family functions, and yes, they show up a church! And it’s not that the job or the family or the church or the moment is stressful- they MAKE it stressful!!
Why? Because they are bringing WHO THEY ARE, their character and essence into that moment! You can MAKE Problems or you can MAKE Peace!
Jesus is telling us that if we are going to BE the children of God and represent the core of God, our Father’s character, then we will BE people who MAKE peace! (Think about “who/what” has been “represented” by supposed “children of God” in this recent election!!)
Don’t confuse this with the idea of being a “peacekeeper!” A peacekeeper simply avoids conflict and calls that having peace- “just keeping the peace!” Sometime we do everything we can to avoid the problem. But what happens? The problem doesn’t go away and just get’s bigger and more complex until it’s unavoidable!
Delayed action is not keeping the peace it is allowing the problem to keep you from having peace!
Now, I’m not talking about the person who loves conflict, but the person who loves resolution! The truth is we cannot live in a world exempt from conflict and challenges. It’s the challenges and conflicts that present the best opportunities for you to BE revealed for who you really are! Peacemakers face the problem and make peace! HOW?
They bring the “Prince of Peace” and the very presence of Jesus into all those places, and to all those people, with all those problems and MAKE peace!
MAKING PEACE in Three Big Problem Areas!
Finances. According to Damon Carr in his book, “Until Debt Do Us Part” 80% of all divorces are caused by financial problems! Money creates conflicts in marriages, businesses, and yes, churches! Relationships come to an end and we lose peace because of greed. How do you make peace in the area of money? Always VALUE people MORE than money!
Relationships. I’m convinced that 99% of counseling has to do with interpersonal relational conflict! I have never had someone come crying to me because they had a conflict with the Book of Leviticus… because if they had actually read the Book of Leviticus they would cry! No, it’s always because they can’t get along with someone. And too often the issue is so trivial. If you can’t figure out how to be a “peacemaker” in your relationships you will live a life you will regret! How do you make peace in your home, family, relationships? Here’s Paul’s solution (Rom. 12:18 Aramiac Bible in Plain English) “And if it is possible, according to what is within you, make peace with every person!”
Inner Peace. I don’t say this to offend or judge anyone, but in America we are among the world’s most privileged and blessed people on the planet; and yet we have runaway depression, anxiety, a culture of medications, and dysfunction is the new normal! More and more people, regardless of age, sense hopelessness and despair. And ministries for the conflicted, the addicted, and the restricted are exploding! There is so much conflict, confusion, and chaos in people’s souls because all the conflict, confusion, and chaos or our world as seeped in. There is no inner peace! How do you make inner peace? Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”
It’s not incidental that the coming of the Messiah/Jesus was all about “bringing peace!” Isaiah 9 states that Jesus is the “Prince of Peace!” That would mean that where his presence is, where the people of his presence are, there is the opportunity to make peace!
There can be no doubt that in our present moment, in our culture, in our world, especially in our nation, there is a desperate need for the Peacemakers, the makers of peace to rise up!
Key: There can be no doubt that in this room today, some of you need peace in your troubled mind; others of you need peace in a relationship, while still others need peace in the financial context. And you know today that there is the absence of peacemakers or peace making in your life.
Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” We can only bring to the world what we have! MAKING Peace is a creative process that comes from deep within us, the core of our BEING, where we’ve invited and allowed the Prince of Peace to reside.
To make peace we must have peace! Will you allow Jesus to make peace, bring peace to you today??