I’m sure for the TBN viewer and habitual fan, the word “blessing” floods the mind with great health, financial prosperity, exemplary status, and your best life now. But to Jesus’s disciples, “blessed” provides the hope of eternal bliss with our Lord. True blessing and happiness does not rest in earthly possessions, but in the eternal blessing of having the Creator of the world as our true Father. He adopts us into His family, we are literally sons of God — children of God. To cry “Abba Father” is a literal cry to our adopted Father.
This beatitude in Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), is perhaps the most significant for our life on earth after salvation. The beatitudes describe the Christian’s character. Christians are poor in spirit (broken over our sin and bankrupt before the Lord), mourn sin, gentle, want to live and see righteousness, merciful to others, and pure in heart. These are the fruits of the Spirit as described by Paul (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). Why is this the most significant? Because, this beatitude defines and describes the Christian life.
What does it mean to be a peacemaker? I thank the Hippies for bringing confusion to this question. Well, really their view of being a peacemaker has root in liberal theology. Peace seems defined as “Love, not war.” Certainly today’s “Top-40” artists seem to continue this mantra. Others seem to think “peace” is the lack of anger, conflict, or strained relationships. This is close to the mark, but only accurate if sin and reconciliation are part of the equation. The peace Jesus wants us to pursue focuses on being at peace with the Father.
Our sin separates us from the Trinity. Our guilty status makes us worthy to the death penalty. Guilty sinners await His just punishment, the wrath of God. But the believer, covered by the blood of Jesus, has peace with the Father because of Christ, the cross, death, and resurrection. Amen.
The believer, called to make disciples, should pursue this kind of peace with others. Our lifetime mission, until the Lord calls us home or returns, seeks to show others how they can be at peace with the Triune God. This means we need to think evangelistically sharing the Gospel with unbelievers informing them about the forgiveness found through Jesus Christ.
Now, up to this point, most believers have no problem nodding their head with an “amen.” But, this isn’t all there is to being a peacemaker. A peacemaker seeks to reconcile with others too after sinning against someone . . . ANYone. Earlier I said, “Others seem to think “peace” is the lack of anger, conflict, or strained relationships. This is close to the mark, but only accurate if sin and reconciliation are part of the equation.” A peacemaker has no broken relationships on earth as far as it depends on him.
In other words, a peacemaker, when he sins against someone, goes and seeks to be reconciled to the person he sinned against. If a wife sins against her husband, and after three days life seems to return to normal, it’s dropped, peace and bliss seem to exist, yet she didn’t ask forgiveness, though there may seem to be peace, there is no peace. In order for there to be peace, she needs to ask him specifically for forgiveness. Forgiveness is a transaction where the transgressor asks the other party to “forgive me for my sin.”
“Live and let live, move on with life,” and other mentalities, though common, are not rooted in a peacemaker’s action. Jesus tells his disciples,
Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison (Matthew 5:23-25).
Jesus doesn’t command people to do something “quickly” very often. But He tells us, when we have sinned against someone, we need to quickly restore the relationship. This is a peacemaker. The peacemaker wants to be right with other people. Why? Because God made us right with Him. It is completely Satanic to feel contentment with God yet not seeking forgiveness from those we’ve wronged. There is not a story in Scripture or a comment from our Lord where He advocates avoiding restoration after sin.
In my experience, it’s easier to ask others to restore than to do it myself. Yet, failure to seek it indicates our motives are contrary to the Lord’s. The simple reality, this blog post boiled down to one sentence — “Be reconciled to people you’ve wronged.” “But, uh, you don’t know . . . ?!?” . . . I’ve heard, seen, and unfortunately experienced the rhetoric and logic that prevents us from peacemaking.
Hindrances to Peace
So, what distracts us from being a peacemaker? What common reasons do people use to avoid honoring God?
- There is one pure and simple answer: sin. Another way to frame this? “pride.” Pride prevents us from accepting we messed up, sinned against God, and manifested it towards another. We humans seems to think more highly of ourself than we ought too. The better I am the less I could possibly wrong someone else, right? How does our pride manifest itself?
- We often redefine the situation. Our hearts are crafty at twisting the situation into something harmless. Adults are professional reality twisters. We like to twist reality to conform to my high, perfect view of myself. We like to downplay our actions while magnifying others. I’ve seen elders call Gossip “water-cooler talk” and down play it. Instead of calling sin “sin” and asking forgiveness, his action is really nothing big. If an elder, a spiritual leader can do this, then what does it tell us? It tells us no one is safe from the deceiving nature to our sinful heart.
- Often we’ll avoid being at peace by using other excuses. We use the James Bond car smoke screen. One thing bothers me, but instead, I’ll just drop off the earth, avoid you like the plague, and yet tell you it’s something else. In your mind, nothing is wrong. In my mind something HUGE is wrong. “But to be at peace I’m going to act like everything is okay, leave quietly, avoid you, and pretend it’s something else.” This is called lying. Yes, being a peacemaker requires difficult conversations. But it’s wrong to avoid a person, especially if you think he or she is in sin. Yet, in Christian circles, this action is wrong when someone does it to me, but when your pastor is wrong, you have every right to do this. In fact, leave quietly under the veil of some other excuse. Go ahead, God will agree with you, right? On paper, it’s heart wrenching and we shake our heads. But how often is this unfortunately practiced? It’s sin.
- Another prideful manifestation preventing peace is when a person crosses the line. We’ve all done it. “If he does this one more time, I’m going to . . .” Outside the moment, dwelling on the Gospel, this has no justification. But in trials and hardships come the sinful thought and the line in the sand. How many marriages do you know that suffer from this line? Does your marriage suffer because your spouse crossed the line for the last time? . . . Now, perhaps you’re a line drawer. Show me in Scripture where the Lord draws a line with us? Wow, if God drew a line with me, I’d be toast, ejected, and dejected. God is too gracious to draw a line with His chosen children. If we’re asked to love like the Lord loves, then how can we draw a line?
- This last manifestation of pride has a lot of acceptance in this world: being offended. Let me be clear. Christians cannot be offended. Plain and simple, you and I have NO right to be offended. My friend, who stabbed me in the back, sinned against God. Yet it was manifested to me. But he won’t stand before me on judgment day. He will stand before the Lord. As his friend, I’m willing to show grace, mercy, and love because I want my friend to have peace with the Father. Being offended is a siren and warning light for myself. It tips me off to the reality that I am a prideful person and obviously expect others to consider me above all other factors (including the Lord). Yes, people are going to do offensive things on earth. But that’s what sinners do. Rather than being offended, realize reality and minister to them. Please show them the grace and mercy the Father shows us! Show them how great He is to reconcile people who offend Him!
The Peacemaker’s DNA
- He or she understands the Gospel and forgiveness. What did we do to gain forgiveness? NOTHING. Why do we make forgiveness contingent on another’s fitting the right context or situation? God forgives us because of Christ who loves us first. The Gospel is God loving rebellious children and rescuing us from the wrath to come based on His own kindness. Through Christ we have forgiveness. Forgiveness is the Lord choosing not to bring back up our actions against us. The Lord forgives every time we ask. He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. There isn’t a line with Him. The peacemaker knows how much he’s been forgiven and seeks to be the same with others.
- He exhibits God’s love for us. This is another side to the Gospel. The Lord’s love is not contingent on or responsive to us. Humans often love as a response. God creates love. The Lord loves us first. He creates love for rebellious children who do not naturally want His love. The Lord doesn’t wait for us to finally meet all the criteria to show us grace and forgiveness. He confronts us, shows us grace, and provides forgiveness. Our God seeks peace. Then He asks us to reflect and exhibit His actions towards other people, especially those we’ve wronged or have wronged us.
- Humility. If pride is the problem, then humility is the learned solution. The humble person realizes who he is before the Lord and therefore draws from the Lord. The humble man knows his own disposition and therefore cannot draw lines. God does not draw lines telling us if we cross it then He will no longer be forgiving. The Gospel doesn’t create these kinds of lines, neither can we.
- The Son makes peace with us. At the end of the day, the Lord made peace with us. Why can we not then make peace with others? In our rebellion, He rescued us. Maybe instead of digging in, we should just confess our sin and ask forgiveness? Maybe doing this will be an avenue to open the door to someone’s salvation because we exhibited a love divine. God’s love is sweet to His children. It’s attractive, comforting, hopeful, and peaceful. It spurs me on and strengthens long-suffering. Seek peace because you love people and want them to be at peace with the Father.
The most horrible stories in the church are those of splits, rejection, turned backs, and division. At no level does this represent our Lord’s forgiveness to us. The greatest stories in the church are those rated X for sinfulness (all sins are rated X by the way) but reconciled by peacemakers. To see two friends with a troubled past love each other encourages our soul. It reflects the same love our Father in heaven shows us.