Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Peacemakers - Part 3

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
– Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

I’ve taken on a study of the above verse to determine what Jesus really meant. I decided to start by focusing on the Biblical term “peace” to get a firm understanding of how Jesus would have understood that word.

Reading through the hundreds of verses that refer to peace in the Bible, it seems to me that they can be roughly divided into two general categories, Social and Spiritual.

On the Social side of the ledger we are talking about peace between people. It involves a reduction of, or better yet, a complete absence of interpersonal conflict. It is a horizontal thing, man to man.

Some examples of verses that deal with the Social side of peace include:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. (Jeremiah 29:7)

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

People who have focused intensely on addressing the Social side fight to correct injustice, and often do so in particularly non-violent ways. Two examples of great men who were champions of non-violent confrontation of this sort would be Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Their willingness to stand up to governments without violence ultimately helped bring about peace in a social sense to millions of people. People who take a stand here and understand this facet of peace should be honored and can obviously accomplish great good by touching many lives in a positive way. But that’s not all there is.

Unfortunately I’m out of time for this morning. I’ll address the Spiritual side another time.



Dan Trabue said...

And Amen.

Anonymous said...

One of my many questions on this subject is related to the incident when Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple. Question #1 (for now): Does this mean that there is a point where "physical action" (seems pretty close to violence) is necessary, or at least, justified?
Question #2: If the answer to #1 is "No", then... ?????? Did Jesus get some sort of "pass card" for that one particular incident?
Question #3: What about the NT passages about obeying those in authority over you, honoring leaders/kings/governments, etc., including "give to Caesar what is Caesar's..." Does this apply to going to war? Do you think that there might be more than one correct answer to this? For example, one person might be a conscientious objector, and another might feel obligated to serve in the military. Does God understand and give his blessing to both?
Always looking for more answers, insights, and feedback,

Chris Cree said...

Interesting questions.

Can a peacemaker ever not be making peace?

Can confrontation ever be a part of peacemaking? Even physical confrontation? How about violent physical confrontation?

Where is the line drawn?

The classic example that deals with question #3 is the story of Sgt. York from WWI. He was a conscientious objector who won the Medal of Honor by killing and capturing Germans. He said he killed the German machine gunners to save lives.

He did the math and acted to help ensure the smallest loss of life in the situation.

Was he right?

Dan Trabue said...

Chris, you mind if I weigh in?

The passages:
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all
them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the
tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold
doves..." (Matthew 21)

"Jesus went up toJerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when
he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out
of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen..." (John 2 [interesting side note, that this story is at the beginning of Jesus' ministry in John and at the end in Matthew])

Mark has the story, too, but it's pretty similar to Matthew's.

I'd note that there is no indication that Jesus harmed anyone, but rather that he chased them out.

Still, even if you prefer to consider that violence, it's okay with me. What it's clearly not is:
1. Deadly violence
2. Violence that harms innocent bystanders

Non-violent resisters/pacifists definitely believe in confrontation. Further, we (by and large) don't mind physical confrontation to protect others. We can believe that and still believe in loving our enemies and overcoming evil with good. We just think that war is nowhere in the same vicinity of Jesus' actions here.

One final note: If you read this passage in full, you'll notice that the reason that Jesus drives the moneychangers out of the temple is specifically because they were oppressing/taking advantage of the poor.

Sorry so long...