“9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” Matthew 5:9 (MSG)
This verse is very interesting, and quite confusing to understand. You should read it again.
Here it is in the NLT in case you hate the message.
“9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
And then here it is in the King James Version in case you only read that version.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
This verse is one part of a section in the Sermon on the Mount called The Beatitudes. At first glance, it seems a little different from some of the others, because the other verses talk about how you’re really blessed when your life is miserable in this way (i.e. being poor, hungry, persecuted, meek). Yet, as many of us know, being merciful, pure in heart, and a peacemaker, is really no easy task. In fact, seeking those things has a cost and for some, it has costed their lives. Yet, I’m not here to talk about that.
I like peace. I love peace in my heart, and I also love peace between people especially in the Church. God does too. Like all parents, He doesn’t like it when His kids fight, yet, in the course of life, there will be fighting amongst God’s kids. It could be bickering about a misunderstanding, or something as shattering as a divorce between two of your best friends. It could be between two people, or between two groups of people or churches. All of these situations are very difficult to navigate, but luckily we have God.
If you read this today, and you think I’m talking about you, I am not. I’ve lived 26 years and that’s long enough to see conflict, strife, disunity, you name it. When I was younger in middle school it was two friends breaking up or stealing food. At 26, it’s two friends divorcing or stealing thousands of dollars.
Yet, if you are not living at peace with someone, what are you doing singing songs about God’s forgiveness and not working on your dispute? I understand peace takes time, but please don’t use that as an excuse to be inactive.
So who should strive to be peacemakers? The children of God should. It’s as simple as the verse above.
The more difficult question to answer is ‘How do we do that?” Romans 12:9-21 perfectly describes how a Christian should live their life. It’s in peace with great love; forgiving each other and seeking to show undeserved kindness to each other. Yet, the question is how do we help our brother or sister live this out when they are fighting with another spiritual sibling?
It’s takes a lot of patience. I’m not talking about not getting mad at the person when you feel mad. That’s a short-sighted view of patience. Instead, it’s a steadfastness concerning a goal you have for the person. You want both people to love each other, so you push forward towards that goal never quitting regardless of their actions or words. Frustration is inevitable, but you patiently endure that while moving towards the goal.
One of the ways to create peace is to spend time with both people. You’ll begin to notice that a big part of disputes is a secret unspoken war that happens between both people. They begin to assume things about the other whether they are true or not. These unspoken wars can become very toxic to the point of both people ceasing to be your friend because they assume all you do is talk bad about them with the ‘enemy’. Although, that is at the point when you did all you could for the time being. In the meantime, you put out fires in this unspoken war. The person will have false assumptions whispered in their ear from Satan or from insecurities. It’s at that point that you step in and explain that it’s false.
The trouble though is that sometimes those assumptions are true. You shouldn’t lie to them. The goal is the help the person understand the other person. Understanding helps people move on. Gentleness is very useful here. Pray and invite The Holy Spirit in. After all, one of His fruits is gentleness. Also, all of this is working with Christians. Even if someone was wronged, the person was forgiven by Christ, and they don’t really have any right to be unforgiving.
I’m tying forgiveness and peace together because they go hand-in-hand. We have peace with God now because of the forgiveness God offered us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Confrontation doesn’t always mean a lack of peace in fact it is a tool that could lead to peace. On the other hand, unforgiveness always leads to a lack of peace.
“Time and distance heal all wounds”. That’s true, but it could also lead to infections. If time healed all wounds, old people wouldn’t be bitter. It seems like they’ve been given time, but the truth is time doesn’t always heal. Distance doesn’t really fix anything. It just removes the stimulus and if it should ever return those unresolved issues will return too. Even though time and distance are useful tools to help in peace and healing they aren’t the cure.
As a result, we can’t ignore the lack of peace in our communities. Those problems won’t go away. They may even get worse. At the same time, we aren’t always actively working to foster love between our friends. Peace takes time. They may need to sleep on it. Still, during that time we should pray for peace between our friends that hate each other. God is ultimately the cure to all disputes. Prayer is so powerful because we are talking to the God who changes hearts. He will use the Holy Spirit to heal both Christian’s hearts and move towards peace.
So in the end, we spend time with both people. We actively try to love them and show our love for them. It’s a contagious love because we want to both people to love each other. We act with understanding, but we refuse to ever stop loving either person. And finally, pray, pray, and pray. That’s the most important thing.
May God bless us with peace in our communities so that when new people enter the community they see God. Amen.