Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Peacemakers - Part 7

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
– Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
In Part 6 I looked at where the peacemaker’s peace comes from. (Here are Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5)

Today I’m going to take a look at the sons of God. Who was Jesus talking about and what does that mean to me?

The term sons of God (or son of God) is found through out the Bible. It is the title Satan used when he tempted Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…” It is the very phrase that got the religious leaders in Jesus’ day in such a tizzy. At Jesus’ trial they said, “By our laws he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”

My point is that when Jesus uses the phrase to talk about the peacemakers, it is not a throw away line. It is important to know what He means by it.

Someone with the title of son is in the family. It brings with it certain rights and responsibilities. Children have a unique relationship with their parents. And they can normally expect some sort of inheritance from their parents. There is really only two ways to become a member of the family. You are either born into the family or you can be adopted into the family.

By using the term sons of God (sometimes translated children of God) Jesus is saying that the peacemakers are part of Gods family. They have certain rights (and responsibilities) and can expect an inheritance from God.

So. Is peacemaking the way to become a son of God?

I think the answer is not so much. Let me explain.

When John is introducing Jesus in his account, he says the following:
“But to all who believed in him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan – this rebirth comes from God.” – John 1:12-13 (NLT)
Paul said it this way: “So you are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.”

The doorway to joining the family is through Jesus Christ. We have to believe in Jesus. We have to be careful not to gloss over what it means to have faith in Jesus. We saw earlier that Satan saw Jesus’ identity clearly but obviously the enemy didn’t accept Jesus for who he was. And he doesn’t want us to accept Jesus either. He’ll use whatever methods he can to keep us from accepting Jesus.

A small example: when I typed in that quote from John just now I mistakenly didn’t type in the phrase, “and accepted him”. I read the words in my Bible. I knew they were in the verse. Then I typed the passage in without the phrase. And I read it a couple times to check my typing. My mind saw the words correctly even though they weren’t there. Some might call that a coincidental blunder on my part.

They’d be wrong. The enemy will do everything he can to keep people from accepting Jesus for who he really is. He doesn’t want people to hear Jesus when He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.”

There is only one way to become a son of God. Both the privileges and the responsibilities of being a part of God’s family are outrageous. And the way into His family is both incredibly easy and a very hard thing at the same time.

The easy part is that the only thing we have to do is believe in and accept Jesus for who he is. There’s no heavy lifting required on our part. Anyone can do it. There is no elitism or favoritism on this end.

The hard part of the equation is this: Believing and accepting Jesus is the only way into the family. Jesus said it is an extremely exclusive path. There are no alternate routes. No side tracks, shortcuts, or long ways. We can’t make our selves be good enough to make it. We can’t earn our place in the family. Even though we trick ourselves into believing we’re really OK, in the end everything we do, all our heavy lifting and sacrifice, will fall short. We still won’t be “in the family” short of believing in and accepting who Jesus is.

Jesus wasn’t saying that being a peacemaker doesn’t make you a son of God. Peacemaking results from sonship. One of the characteristics of the people in God’s family is that they should make “peace” in the world around them. This includes both Social and Spiritual peace.

Heavy stuff, I know. But hey, it’s Sunday. And today is the day we’ll hear the peacemaker message from the Be Attitude series we’re in at church. How cool is that?



Dan Trabue said...

"Jesus wasn’t saying that being a peacemaker doesn’t make you a son of God. Peacemaking results from sonship."

So, conversely, if one is not a peacemaker, is that an indicator that one is stumbling in their acceptance of Jesus as their God?

And have we agreed upon what it means to be a peacemaker yet?

Chris Cree said...

Dan, on your first question I'd answer: perhaps, but not necessarily. Kinda like I said in Part 6, I would say that they could very well have accepted Jesus as their God, but that they are probably not as close yet to Him as they ultimately will be. As you know spiritual growth is a process that doesn’t happen overnight and none of us have perfectly arrived. We all have blind spots and peacemaking can be one too.

But that doesn’t give us license to ignore the issue. My own natural tendency is to argue and debate so that I can “prove” that I am “right.” It’s not conducive to peace around me and I am changing that. As I said I am having a garage sale and getting rid of my mental junk. :)

As to your second question, I thought I pretty much answered that as “one who makes peace”. The challenge was understanding peace, which I’ve worked out to my satisfaction.

Dan Trabue said...

One who makes peace. I can buy that.

Depending upon who you define "making peace."

Does making peace involve war or deadly violence in any way? Does it involve killing innocent bystanders, including children?

I ask because, as you know, I think the church has gone wildly astray in this area from very central biblical teaching and I'm glad to hear people talking about it, asking difficult questions, looking for answers.

Chris Cree said...

Let me answer your question with a question,

Do you think it is ever in the realm of posiblity that peacemaking could ever involve the taking of a life, whether innocent or not?

Chris Cree said...

Oh, and for the record, I really think this guy is really missing the boat as a peacemaker...

Dan Trabue said...

"Do you think it is ever in the realm of posiblity that peacemaking could ever involve the taking of a life..."

In the realm of possibility, yes. On the small scale, where one is trying to defend other lives and has intervened to stop an assailant.

But I find it to be exceptionally remote possibility on the small scale.

On the large scale (war), I find it nearly impossible for peacemaking to involve killing. Because of the huge difficulty of conducting war in a manner that is just or righteous.

I do allow that war-as-actual defense (as in an actual invading army) to be a possibility. But only in acknowledging that it is engaging in an evil in the hope of stopping a what is assumed to be a greater evil - not to be confused with actual peacemaking.

And I don't see Christians participating in such a war, just that it would be too much to expect a people to not defend themselves.


Dan Trabue said...

And I think thusly at least partially because of that ol' chestnut: What Would Jesus Do? Which, as trite as it's been made, is quite a good measure.

Chris Cree said...

So are you saying that Jesus, as the ultimate peacemaker would never see war as a possibility?

If so, how do you reconcile that position with Revelation when Jesus will be leading his army into battle on his white horse? “With justice he judges and makes war.”

Just as you’ve allowed that there are some instances where killing or even war is justified I believe they both happen in our fallen world far more than is right or just.

Sometimes discussions can devolve into both sides taking silly extreme positions in the effort to convince the other. I’m glad we can avoid that.