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How Fortunate are the Peacemakers
It is a basic feature of flawed humanity to want to control, to dominate, to be powerful. But this is not Jesus’ way. He did not commend the warriors or the rulers, the powerful or the leaders, instead he said: ‘How fortunate are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’.
Only disciples who are poor in spirit enter fully into God’s kingdom. A few are then paralysed by their awareness of their poverty, while the rest make spiritual progress and mourn for their failings. Some who begin in mourning end in moaning, the others become meek. One or two of the meek become passive and weak, but most go on to hunger for being right before God. Sadly, a few of those who taste God’s righteousness do become harsh; but the others are filled with mercy. Some merciful disciples settle for second best, but we are all called to progress to purity of heart. A few of the pure opt out of the world, but God wants us all to press on to reach the point where our attitudes become our actions, where our character shows itself in conduct, where our filling with and by God has a deeply practical Christ-like result.
It is important we understand that we can all progress through all the attitudes. The fact that a few believers do sometimes backslide does not mean that we are all bound to stagnate in our spiritual life. Jesus calls us to follow him, and he provides us with everything we need to follow him deeply into his wonderful kingdom. We can all reach the point where we are filled with his attitudes, so we must keep going along God’s way – even when it is narrow and difficult.
These beautiful attitudes show that people who are filled with God have three positive characteristics – mercy, purity and peacemaking. These are the key ingredients in disciples who are ruled by God.
Just as each attitude becomes harder, so each promise gets better. Those disciples who are peacemakers will be called ‘children of God’. They will not just be clients, spectators, members, citizens, servants, partners or disciples – they will also be children. They will have a new identity to go with their new nature, and a new relationship which matches their attitudes.
What is peacemaking?
Peacemakers are not quarrelsome or argumentative. They do not go out of their way to make trouble. They are not concerned with themselves. Instead they go out of their way, at great personal cost, to bring people together in a peace-filled relationship which is based on God’s justice.
Peacemakers are not over-sensitive or defensive. They do not look at situations and ask how they will affect them or their group. Instead they are pure, meek, humble. They are dead to self and self-interest – when they look at a situation they ask only how it will affect others.
Peacemakers must first mourn and be merciful. They look at people lost in their anger and bitterness and realise that they are the victims of selfishness and sin. They know that these people are heading for calamity – and this increases their mourning and mercy. Then they do something.
Peacemakers are deeply practical people. They do all the things that the rest of the Sermon on the Mount describes:
• They make reconciliation a priority
• They go the extra mile
• They turn the other cheek
• They love their enemies
• They give to everyone who asks
• They keep their generosity and righteousness to Themselves
• They serve God not money
• They set their hearts on God’s kingdom
• They do not judge others
• They do not worry.
In one sense, the rest of the Sermon on the Mount is only a lengthy description of practical peacemaking. It follows on from the beautiful attitudes and illustrates the consequences of being ruled by God – of living in his kingdom.
Right at the start, we saw that these hard sayings of Jesus are impossible to keep by self-effort, now we can see that they are the natural result of following Christ and progressing from poverty of spirit right through to his holy peace-making.
Children of God
Those disciples who make eternal and earthly peace their priority will be claimed by God as his children. This is why so many of the Bible’s promises of heavenly rewards and inheritance are not for doctrine and dealing with demons, but for welcoming strangers, feeding the hungry and housing the homeless.
To be a child of God is to be a brother or sister of Jesus. He showed all the eight attitudes all of the time, but his highest priority was to make peace – peace between God and ourselves, and peace between people. He is ‘the Prince of Peace’ – the supreme peacemaker – and all those who follow him are meant to be like him.
Colin will be preaching on “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9) on Sunday 25 July at 9am & 11am.
Watch all of Colin’s messages on The Sermon on the Mount beginning with THE GREATEST SERMON EVER TOLD – The Kingdom Has Arrived!
Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash
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