Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. -Jesus
This is my personal reflection on this verse.
“We should try to live in such a way that if the Gospels were lost, they could be re-written by looking at us.” _ Metropolitan Anthony Bloom source here.
The Community that is known as God’s Children are a people of peace this peace happens by their dedication to the least. The peacemakers seek the peace of even the most forsaken, even their most bloodthirsty enemies. The Spirit of God makes possible a peace that shows the world how broken it is, not by pointing fingers, but by showing a peaceful alternative to the world who knows only how to call violence or less bloodshed by the name of peace. We were told that Operation Iraqi freedom was about progress, victory and peace, it was a peacekeeping mission. Almost 10 years and billions of dollars later, can we still call that peace? No.
But, our peace does not rest on America’s actions, nor does it rest on the promises of systems that are not God. Our peace is ours because it has been given to us from the Cross of Jesus, and is that cross itself. The Sermon on the mount describes, not various individuals following Jesus who should seek all these gifts. Instead, we should read these verses as Jesus describing what the community of his disciples will look like, because He himself is what His disciples look like. He calls his disciples to Him to teach these things, if we are going to take this message seriously, we have to recognize our own need to step out of the crowd and into the presence of disciples.
Living in the Church should show us that what our culture calls peace is not peace to us. The peace of Bush and Cheyney of Obama and Biden is not peace to us. The peace that Wallstreet and Main Street promise are not peace, the peace that home ownership, car ownership and fancy parties promise is not peace. What our nation can settle for as peace is not good enough for us, we do not want the peace of America, or even the peace of the world at the expense of any blood save the blood of Jesus. We are the people who have been called to do no harm, but this is very different from, have no conflict.
His blood and only His blood can make real peace. The peace maker is Jesus Himself, and those who follow Him reflect that also. Our peace is manifest in the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. That testimony is not about our verbal witness, it’s about the way we live actively being able to be read as a testimony to a kingdom where there is no more violence and Love reigns supreme.
Our lives are the book people will read about the beliefs we have. It doesn’t matter if the cover of the book says peace if the table of contents has chapters on how to go about committing violence. We have to embody the gospel in the life we share together, so that if the gospels were lost people could rewrite them by looking at us. The peacemaking process is just that a process, we have to be able to learn to share together with each other the suffering of Jesus that makes our reconciliation possible by faith. If we do not act according to that belief today, we are atheists, and the Love of God is not in us. To act as though God is irrelevant is the heart of atheism. Angry men who point the finger at the sky in rebellion are far less dangerous than we are if we live as though our belief is confined to spirituality and has no bearing on the way we think or eat or speak or breathe or live.
The most dangerous testimony against the peace that the Church offers is Christians who believe that God’s peace is just for a far off day of the Lord, and doesn’t have any place in our community today. We must beat our swords into plowshares, our weapons into instruments of the harvest. Our violence is to be put aside our preoccupation with Caesar has come to an end, because we have Jesus. He is God’s messiah who has come to make peace between God and the world and initiate his kingdom in the community of his followers who embody His peace. The world offers us peacekeeping, the gospel offers us peacemaking. We are not just out to retain the standards of the world and hold it together until Jesus comes. We’re here to work for the kingdom and show the world a community that claims Jesus is king and establishes His kingship in the life that this community lives.
The Day of the Lord is today, and it is today that we must begin to already put away warfare, bloodshed and violence, or else we are not living according to our belief. The kingdom isn’t just an idea out there, it concretely started with His resurrection. If we cannot put away our swords we cannot properly embody the community of Jesus. Peacemakers are blessed not because they overflow in lack of conflict but because they actively choose to resolve conflict at the expense of themselves. That’s what it means to turn the other cheek. Making peace entails sacrifice and mutual submission to one another and to God. We submit to each other even when it is unpleasant
Turning the other cheek to make peace does not mean we will not be hit again, Jesus proves that with his 39 lashes, but it does mean we’re working with the grain of the Universe that God is calling our universe to be. It does mean we’re living from that kingdom’s rules, into our world, it means that we’re establishing a foothold for the kingdom of God by being that community that shows the world an alternative to what it knows as peace.
Peacemaking is not a task for the world, it’s a task for the church, no UN council or peacekeeping force can do what the church can do, the church can suffer the world to help make redemption a reality. The Roman occupation was a peace-keeping force, and Jesus still opposed Caesar, He claimed his kingship was unlike those of the world. The peace that passes all understanding, and the peace that flow from us are one and the same, they’re a peace bought at the cost of a crucified Jesus who makes peace in the cross. We will only learn to make peace when this cross is present and living in the community of them who are likewise crucified. Blessed are the peacemakers is not a suggestion, but one of the core meanings of what it is that the church embodies. Either we live this as communities, or we are not the church. Blessed are the peacemakers is non-negotiable, it’s gospel.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
— Isaiah 2: 2-4 (KJV)