Posted by David Luckman, 5 Mar 2020
David Luckman continues our Lent series with the next of the beatitudes, on making peace.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
How does a child of God make peace?
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
A paternity test is conducted to prove whether or not a man is the biological father of another individual. This beatitude is like a spiritual paternity test to help us identify who our father is.
When you know the family likeness, you can spot the family members, and our opening Bible reading from Matthew 5:43-48 helps us to see the family resemblance. We tend to love those who love us. We do good to those who do good to us. Everyone on the face of the planet does that. God, however, doesn’t just love those people who love him. He loves people even when they hate him. God’s children are to do the same, if they are to be like their Father.
The peace of Christ
The world makes peace using the threat of war. The open hand of friendship is extended, whilst the other hand grasps the handle of a gun. True and lasting peace, however, is more than the absence of war. The reality is that we can’t find peace by human efforts because our hearts are sinful, and we will always be at war with each other. Neither can we find peace without truth and justice, love and forgiveness, to accompany it.
According to Christ Jesus, the peacemakers are the children of God because they will be like their father. There is a family resemblance. To make peace is to be like God, because God makes peace. How? By sending his Son Jesus Christ into the world to die for our sins on a cross. We make peace, as people come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and they find forgiveness in him. As we proclaim this great gospel of Christ, peace with God is made. It is a peace that spreads throughout the whole of life — peace with yourself which then extends to peace with your neighbour.
The preaching of the gospel of the crucified Christ is what makes peace in this world because it is only through his Son that God makes peace. Those who preach Christ are the makers of peace and will put it into practice in their fellowships and in their families by becoming peaceable people. Of course, you cannot be a peacemaker without also wanting to be a peaceable person yourself. So we are told:
‘Live at peace with everyone’ (Romans 12:18)
‘Make every effort to do what leads to peace’ (Romans 14:19)
‘God has called us to live in peace’ (1 Corinthians 7:15)
‘Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace’ (2 Timothy 2:22)
‘Make every effort to live in peace with everyone’ (Hebrews 12:14)
This is not an exhaustive list, but we get the idea — we are to live in peace, and not in warfare. It is important that we pursue peace. Sometimes we will be persecuted because we love and follow Jesus Christ, but as much as possible, we are to be peaceable people. However, Jesus doesn’t say, ‘blessed are the peaceable for they will be called sons of God’. Jesus says, ‘blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God’. We do not make peace by being peaceable, in the sense of placidly avoiding conflict. We make peace by the proclaiming of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Questions for Reflection
1. Can you love and do good to the people who hate and despise you?
2. Does God’s peace reign within you, or have you permitted difficulties or sin to weaken your commitment to Jesus Christ?
3. How might you overcome the fear of telling your friends and family the gospel of Christ Jesus?
O God our heavenly Father,
who has created true peace through your Son, Jesus Christ,
reconciling humanity to yourself by the cross:
we pray that you would help us to be peacemakers in this world
by proclaiming this glorious gospel of Christ crucified,
that all who hear may know your true and lasting peace
and enjoy fellowship with you forever,
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,
David Luckman is the Team Leader of Crosslinks Ireland.
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