Guest Post Author: David Swanger, Outreach and Involvement Minister (Hendersonville church of Christ ~ Hendersonville, Tennessee)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God (Matthew 5:9).
One would be hard pressed to find a better description of the peace that God desires for His children than the words of the old song written in 1875 by Edward Henry Bickersteth:
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin; The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed; To do the will of Jesus—this is rest.
Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round: On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.
Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away; In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown: Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours; Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.
It is enough; earth’s struggles soon shall cease, and Jesus calls us to heaven’s perfect peace.
Only one bankrupt in spirit, broken with grief, submissive to God’s leading, living with an insatiable hunger for righteousness, filled with mercy, and committed to purity can know such peace, a peace that comes from God (James 3:17) and results from our faith in and our relationship with Christ (Romans 5:1; John 16:33).
This peace has been compared to the deepest recesses of the ocean where, regardless of the storms raging on the surface, remains serene and tranquil.
Christians know a peace the world cannot give or take away, a peace that does not depend on the circumstances that surround them or the situation they find themselves in. Christians know that in the best circumstances without God there is no peace, and in the worst circumstances with God one never lacks it.
Peace within is essential, for there will never be peace without.
In the past 4,000 years there have been less than 300 years of world peace. World War II was billed as the war to end all wars. It didn’t.
In 1945 the United Nations set as its motto, “To have succeeding generations free from the scourge of war,” and thus far that has not been true one single day.
Every peace treaty ever brokered has been broken, and peace has proved to be only that brief moment in time when everyone stops to reload.
The problem lies in the fact that we have delegated the job of peacemaking to politicians, statesmen, and diplomats and have failed to realize the only real peace the world will ever know will result when God rules in the hearts of people, a rule that only God’s children are called upon and privileged to promote in our world. Their ultimate calling is to be peacemakers.
In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The followers of Jesus have been called to peace. When He called them they found their peace, for He is their peace. But now they are told that they must not only have peace but make it.”
Peacemakers are those who want others to have the peace they enjoy and actively commit themselves to sharing Christ. While the world thinks peace is the absence of conflict, Christians know peace is the presence of righteousness in the hearts of men and women, a righteousness that can only be experienced through a relationship with Christ (John 14:27).
Don Richardson tells of working with the Sawi tribe in Irian Jaya and the frustration he experienced in trying to help them understand the meaning of Christ and His death on the cross.
At the time, the Sawi’s were in a bitter feud with another tribe, and Don often wondered if there would ever be peace. He learned of a custom among the tribes that if a child was given as a permanent gift to the enemy, peace would prevail as long as that child lived. As the story goes, a father took his only child, ran from the village, and presented him to the enemy. That baby became known as the Peace Child, for as long as he lived, there was peace.
Don had his analogy.
He presented Jesus as the perfect peace child, and as long as He lives, peace can reign in the hearts of His followers.
That is the story of a peacemaker. That is the Christian’s story. Experiencing the peace of God in our own hearts (Colossians 3:5), we “make every effort to live in peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14) and share the gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15) with those who do not know it.
Practicing peace isn’t always easy as indicated by the following story.
Each night as the lights went out in the barracks, a young soldier would slip out of bed and on his knees spend time in prayer. His sergeant, who had little use for anything “Christian,” saw this one night, picked up his muddy boots, and slung them in the soldier’s direction.
The young man barely flinched as one of the boots hit him in the side of the head and the sergeant, muttering an obscenity, rolled over to sleep. The following morning the sergeant found his boots beside his bed, cleaned and polished to perfection.
Peacemakers in the words of Jesus “love their enemies, pray for their persecutors, turn the other cheek, and go the second mile.” Peacemakers make every effort to live in peace with others.
Ultimately, the enemy of peace is sin.
While mans’ sin in the garden destroyed the relationship man first enjoyed with God, at the cross Jesus made peace a reality again. There He offered all who would seek Him and live under His Lordship the opportunity to experience a life of peace.
Paul, speaking for all Christians, wrote, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Long ago God through the prophet Isaiah spoke of the “perfect peace” that belong to that one who trusted in Him (Isaiah 26:3).
Sinful man cannot create peace within or without. God is the only answer and Christians are the ones to bear that message of peace, the only message that offers a righteous solution to a sin-inflicted world.
What a special calling it is to both experience and restore something that has been lost since the fall.
The promise to the peacemaker: They shall be called the sons of God.
What an honor to be my father’s son. What a greater honor to be a child of God. What a privilege to share with others what I have because of that relationship.
Do you have that relationship? Consider making the simple switch.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
This article was written by David Swanger. David currently serves as the Outreach and Involvement Minister at the Hendersonville church of Christ in Hendersonville, Tennessee. If you would like more information about heaven, happiness, or how to be saved, please be sure to check out www.alivewithchrist.com.