Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blessed are the Peacemakers

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus famously proclaims, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9, ESV). In the wake of all that occurred last night in Ferguson, it seems to be quite the appropriate message for us today.

When Jesus spoke of peacemakers, he no doubt had in mind the concept of shalom (Hebrew for "peace"). What we need to keep in mind though is what exactly is encapsulated in shalom. Cornelius Plantinga states the following: 

"The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, whole ness and delight -- a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as it's Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be."

So while it is right for us to be against rioting, arson and looting, it is not enough for our peacemaking to end there. We must also be against systemic injustice, racism, division and oppression. We must realize that it is not enough to try to KEEP peace, especially when true peace doesn't actually exist. We must strive to MAKE peace. 

We need to humbly admit that our point of view just might not always be the point of view of ultimate truth. We must demonstrate empathy before leaping right to judgment. When we can't understand how there could be any logical explanation for a person's actions, that should cause us to wonder if there's a piece of the puzzle we don't see or at least don't fully understand. This involves great deals of listening before speaking; patiently asking for explanation instead of quickly offering criticism; humbly asking God to give us the vision to see where peace needs to be made, the wisdom to know how we should respond, and the courage to follow through with action.

Peacemaking is hard work. It is at times painful. It is always costly. It certainly was for Jesus, the true Son of God, the ultimate peacemaker. He, at ultimate cost to himself, not only KEPT peace, but MADE peace. May we prayerfully and humbly seek to follow his example.

"For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility." (Ephesians 2:14-16, ESV)

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