I’ve spent some time digging in to see what all is behind the above verse so that I could better understand what Jesus meant by peacemakers and sons of God. I think it is time to wrap this up and come to some conclusions. But first a review:"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."– Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
Part 1 was an introduction. How did I get on this topic anyway?
Part 2 started looking at definitions of the word peace.
Part 3 talked about the Social aspects of peace and peacemaking
Part 4 looked at the Spiritual side of peace
Part 5 discussed what Spiritual peace actually looks like
Part 6 we found the source of Spiritual peace
Part 7 addressed the sons of God. Who are they?
We have been in a series about the beatitudes at our church and this past Sunday’s message was about this verse. And since we usually talk about the message in our small group, I’ve had some extra focus on the verse this week.
As I was reviewing the passage during our small group I noticed the order that Jesus put the beatitudes when he was speaking:
- Those who realize their need for him
- Those who morn
- Those who are gentle and lowly
- Those who are hungry and thirsty for justice
- Those who are merciful
- Those whose hearts are pure
- Those who work for peace (i.e. the peacemakers)
- Those who are persecuted because they live for God
Perhaps the stereotypical judgmental Christian somehow gets hung up at the point where they are hungry and thirsty for justice. You know, the ones who rail against all the evils of the world and tend to stomp on people along the way. In their thirst for justice often there is a serious lack of mercy.
It also makes sense when we look at peacemaking more from the spiritual side than the social side. What is the source of spiritual peace? How do people become children of God? The answer to both questions is the same, through the person of Jesus Christ. So then peacemakers are people who introduce others to Jesus, plain and simple. We cheapen peacemaking and sell it short when we think of it exclusively in terms of our social relationships.
And here’s the most beautiful thing about it: When people are accept Jesus for who he is and come to see spiritual peace, there will be a natural improvement in the social peace around them because they will change from the inside as they take on the attributes that Jesus talked about in the beatitudes. It is not an either/or thing. But if we focus only on the social side of peace we may very well miss out on the opportunities around us to introduce people to Christ, and ultimately offering them true and lasting peace.
The John Piper article referred to in Part 1 points out that Jesus consistently avoided commentary on political issues and continually redirected those kind of questions back to the core personal issues of the people asking the questions. Piper addresses the question aren’t these personal issues insignificant compared to all the international issues that affect millions of people around the globe? Here’s his answer:
The answer is no, because the point of these personal issues in the Sermon on the Mount is to make crystal clear that every individual within the hearing of my voice must become a new creature if you are to have eternal life. You must have a new heart. Without a merciful, pure, peacemaking heart you cannot be called a son of God at the judgment day. And that is the truly weighty matter in the world today.The episode with the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq recently got me looking at this in the first place. Based on what I’ve discovered through looking at all this, I’d say that they seem to be more merciful than peacemakers. They don’t want the enemies of the US and her allies to be hurt. That certainly doesn’t make them wrong by any means. Mercy is a tremendously good thing.
But their efforts seem to be more about stopping US & western military action than about bringing spiritual peace to people. And that seems to miss the mark what I’ve learned that working for peace to be all about.