They don’t get clicks, likes, or retweets on social media. They don’t dominate the news or gather a great following. In earthly spheres of power and influence they are insignificant; however, in Christ’s kingdom they are sons and daughters of God. Jesus called them blessed. They are the peacemakers. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).
A Rare Word for an Exceptional Virtue
On the surface, we may not think of peacemaking as unusual. We have diplomats, counselors, and mediators whose job it is to bring opposing sides in a dispute to some kind of resolution. Yet often, each party merely agrees to suspend hostilities for the sake of mutual self-interest.
However, gospel peace is far superior. The noun translated peacemaker in not found anywhere else in the Bible. In two other places the verbal form is used to describe the effects of Jesus’ atoning death, namely reconciling us to God thus making peace (Col. 1:20) and thereby also uniting believers of all ethnicities into one body through that bond of peace (Eph. 2:11-22).
Hence, true peacemaking requires rare qualities. Those so engaged must be poor in spirit, mourning over sin, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, and pure in heart. Genuine peacemakers seeks the advantage of others over their own (Phil. 2:3-4). They pursue lasting, miraculous change that is rooted in the heart and will not settle for outward conformity (Gal. 6:15). They bring true lasting peace, not merely a ceasefire.
Christ Our Peacemaker
Indeed, none so epitomizes the peacemaker as Jesus Christ. He humbled himself (Phil. 2:8), taking on the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3), in order that he might bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18). He mourned over the sin around him (Luke 19:41), and was put to grief when he bore the guilt of our sins on the cross (Isa. 53:10). He is gentle and meek (Matt. 11:29) and pure in heart (Heb. 7:26). In the work of peacemaking, none is so devoted to our reconciliation as Jesus.
In addition, none has ever hungered and thirsted for righteousness as Jesus did. He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). Neither Satan (Matt. 4:1-11), nor Jesus’ friends and closest family members (Matt. 16:21-23; Mark 3:21; John 7:1-9) could deter him from securing our hope of righteousness through his perfect obedience, even to death on the cross (Rom. 5:19; Phil. 2:8). He would not rest until every jot and tittle of the law was fulfilled (Matt. 5:18). In the work of peacemaking, none is more thorough and uncompromising than Jesus.
So when the believer approaches the infinitely holy throne, he is confident that justice has been satisfied and he is reconciled to God. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34). The believer is not only allowed into God’s presence but joyfully welcomed (Matt. 25:21; Luke 15:10). Now that is astonishing peace.
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Consequently, in a world of culture wars, twitter wars, and political clashes, God calls the Christian to peacemaking. However, the peace offered is not the peace that this world gives, but the lasting peace that comes through Jesus Christ (John 14:27; 20:21). It is peace first with God, and then a peaceful inclination toward others (Heb. 12:14).
To illustrate this, consider when Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples with instructions to offer peace to those who received them (Luke 10:1-9). Christ sent them to proclaim the gospel of his kingdom in the ethnically mixed region of the Transjordan. They were to humbly rely on the hospitality of others, not be self- sufficient, and to eat whatever was set before them. Those who received them and their message of the kingdom in Christ, received Christ, and thereby received peace. Those who rejected them forfeited peace. In fact, on judgment day, it will be more bearable for the inhabitants of Sodom than for those people (Luke 10:10-12).
The Blessed Work of Peacemaking
Thus, peacemaking in this hostile world is serious and difficult work. Following Jesus in peacemaking, means taking up our cross (Mk. 8:34-35) because the world will hate us (John 15:18-19). The blessed peacemakers are also the blessed persecuted ones, who are reviled and slandered on account of Christ (Matt. 5:10-12). Yet, this humble, gentle, uncompromising mission of proclaiming grace and peace to sinners who trust in Jesus Christ most reflects the heart of God for our world today (John 3:16).
Furthermore, peacemaking within the church is also serious and difficult. It requires putting to death what is earthly in us (Col. 3:5) and putting on compassionate hearts as befits “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved” (Col. 3:12). Peace is not a fruit of the flesh, but a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Peace and unity within the church is maintained, not by negotiations and leverage, but by gospel application. The indestructible bond of peace (Eph. 4:3; Col. 3:15) is forged in the furnace of Calvary.
Notwithstanding its difficulty, those engaged in peacemaking are blessed. They bear a family resemblance. They shall be called sons of God. Can there be any greater epithet (1 John 3:1)?
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