A Brief Update
For those of you who are unable to gather corporately with us this Sunday, you are loved and missed! If this is you, we are providing the songs we are singing together this afternoon and a devotional based on the sermon being preached.
Songs We are Singing Together
Devotional on Matthew 5:9
For centuries the Jewish people had waited for the Messiah, the promised deliverer who would free them from oppression. He would establish a kingdom that would militarily be unconquerable so they would never again have to live under someone else’s rule. They wanted a conquering hero not a humble, lowly carpenter who was meek and merciful.
They wanted a conqueror, and they wanted their land back, and they wanted their enemies crushed. They did not want a meek Messiah, so it’s not surprising why so many Jews rejected him.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
In the seventh beatitude it becomes even more clear Jesus’ kingdom is not going to be a military one, but a spiritual one. As the prince of peace, peace is how he rules his kingdom.
The old testament word for peace is shalom, a familiar greeting among the Jews. It is a word rich in meaning that conveys the idea of wholeness, health, and well-being. Its translation carries the idea of salvation. Those who make peace are those who earnestly seek shalom, the salvation of others, and this perfectly describes Jesus.
In this new kingdom, peace was to make up the very fabric of their lives. Shalom was to be more than a greeting or a good-bye, but a benediction of hope and a way of life among God’s people.
What a challenging beatitude in a world that is always at war, and where peace is often an illusion. Since the destruction of the peace between God and man in the garden humanity has been at war, with God and with one another.
The reality is; peacemaking is simply not in our sin infused DNA.
We instinctively turn to conflict to resolve disputes, ironically, in an attempt to create peace. We think that if we can overpower our enemies, we can have peace, and in this one beatitude Jesus turns that worldview upside down.
The Jews wanted peace, but a peace created by a military victory, and sustained by military power, so imagine the turmoil these Jewish believers experience when Jesus tells them that as his disciples in his kingdom they must live as peacemakers—they are to truly be shalom.
They are to be like him, the prince of peace who came to make peace between God and man by removing sin—the very cause of their alienation. He came in human flesh to be the final sacrifice that would end the alienation, hostility, and war between them and God.
Paul writes in Colossians 1:19-20, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
The greatest blessing is to be at peace with God. But the blessing extends beyond just being at peace with God. It means we are capable of bringing peace and being at peace in a world at war.
The blessing of being called a “son of God” is of eternal importance. Notice Jesus doesn’t say, a child of God. The difference may seem slight, but it is significant.
When Jesus speaks of being called “sons of God” he is not looking at gender, male or female, but our identity in Christ. As Christians our identity is not first as male and female but as those who belong to Christ and are in Christ.
We must always be careful not to read into scripture what does not exist. Jesus is not making a gender statement here, leaving out female believers. He is making a statement about our lives being hidden with Christ in God. As Paul writes in Colossians 3:3, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” He is talking to all believers and informing them of what their union with him means. In one sense, God does not see us as male or female but only as those whose identity is hidden in Christ.
Paul writes makes this point again in Galatians 3:28, writing, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.”
These inspired words two thousand years ago were not patriarchal, diminishing women as secondary believers, but words that break down all the human divisions, the divisions created by our sin. As disciples we are one with Christ, not as male or female but as those saved by him. As blessed sons of God then, we are to be peacemakers.
What then does “Peacemaking” look like for a disciple of Christ?
First, a peacemaker seeks to help others find peace with God by sharing the gospel:
What does it mean to be a peacemaker? It means to bring the shalom of God by sharing the gospel. It means to earnestly seek the shalom, or salvation, of others.
The greatest need our world has is the gospel. Real peace cannot come from anywhere else. We have what the world needs, but it takes courage, faith, humility, and sacrifice to share this gospel of peace to those who may not want to hear it. But share it we must, and when we do, we’re promised to be blessed with the assurance that we are sons of God. To know our identity is in Christ far exceeds any blessing we can have in this world.
It is hardly surprising that the particular blessing that is given to peacemakers is that they shall be called sons of God because they are simply seeking to do what their heavenly Father has done—bring peace by sending the prince of peace into a divided, warring world.
Isaiah 52:7 describes those who are peacemakers: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation…”
Yet, Jesus doesn’t restrict peacemaking to only gospel sharing. A disciple of Christ is a peacemaker in the broadest sense of the word. The peacemaker not only shares the gospel but seeks to lessen tensions, bring solutions, and help communication so that God’s way of peace intervenes in times of anger, division, and separation particularly in the church.
Second, a peacemaker seeks to bring peace where conflict exists
Not only are we to be peacemakers by sharing the gospel, but we are to be peacemakers among ourselves—in the church, and in the world around us.
Paul urges his Ephesian readers in Ephesians 4:3 to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” But it can be easier at times to give in to conflict rather than maintain peace. However, Paul implores the church to be eager to maintain peace. The first place we must seek to bring peace where conflict exists is in our own hearts.
It is no surprise that far too many marriages, friendships, parent/child relationships, workplaces, and churches are undone because people are not eager to keep this beatitude. We must choose to be peacemakers so that bitterness, strife, resentment, gossip, and slander do not take hold.
Peace is the currency that makes unity possible. This does not mean the absence of conflict but a Christ-like response to conflict. Paul’s appeal is simple yet powerful—God has made peace with you. He has forgiven you, he has covered your sin, he was sacrificed for you, he continues to always seek fellowship with you. Oh Christian, let this attitude rule in your heart: pursue peace with others.
He tells us in Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” The word “rule” is where we get the idea of an “umpire.” Peace is to act as an umpire. Let the peace of Christ be an umpire in your heart amidst your marriage conflicts of life, your relational difficulties, and in your church family.
We must let the peace of Christ referee our internal struggles where bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness can live and grow, and externally when harsh words stir up strife, but where gentle words can turn away anger as it says in Proverbs 15:1.
Peacemaking is possible. As those who are now at peace with God the gospel promises that the Spirit of God dwells in us. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead empowers us to share the gospel of peace, seek peace, and live in peace.
Song of Response
Sermon Audio from Recent Sundays