Blessed are the peacemakers

Published 8:40 pm Monday, August 28, 2017

In our anxious days of tension, trouble and terrorism, we need the counsel and witness of Jesus. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Now, the Hebrew word for peace is “shalom.” This is the word Jesus used in speaking of peace because it was the word his Hebrew listeners would have understood. Shalom is about peace through addition. It actually transforms the strife through the addition of love, care and help.

An elderly man and his wife had just freshly painted the white fence around their house. That night vandals came and spray-painted the entire fence. The next day a neighbor  came along and realized what had happened. He not only offered the couple his remorse, but went to a paint store, purchased some paint and came back and re-painted his neighbor’s fence. That is shalom-peace through addition.

Next, the blessing here is on peacemaking, not on peace loving. The peace the Bible speaks of does not come from evading troublesome issues, but from facing them, dealing with them and conquering them. Peacemaking is more than peace loving.

And then, peacemakers will be called “children of God.” This significant designation means Godlike. It means that peacemakers are doing a Godlike work. They are possessed with the very attributes of God.

With the war threat of North Korea, the tragedies of Charlottesville and Barcelona and the unbelievable turmoil and polarity in the United States today, is there any question about the need for peacemakers? Is there any question about the need for people who are willing to bridge the gap between liberals and conservatives, the left and the right and of extremists of any persuasion? Is there any question about the need for people who are willing to “turn the other cheek,” “walk in another’s shoes,” and “be a companion on the second mile?”

Is there any question about the need for people to tone down the divisive rhetoric, listen to each other and treat others as brothers and sisters? Unmistakable! The answer is unmistakable that peacemakers are desperately needed and can offer real hope to our struggling nation and world.

Since the undeniable blessing “of” and need “for” peacemakers is clear, I want to share a few additional thoughts. First, peacemakers must have a sense of God’s peace within. Psychologists tell us that this means feeling good about who we are, having a good self-esteem. The result of people having this good self-esteem is that they will be more likely to be loving, cooperative, productive creative, happy and helpful.

On the other hand, those with poor self-esteem are more likely to have problems. These problems have to do with drugs, other people and the law. When we are at war within ourselves, it distorts all our relationships.

The question is, how do we deal with this situation of poor self-esteem? Someone said to another man, “Why don’t you admit that you are inferior?” The man made a wonderful reply, “I am a child of God, and out of loyalty to my Father, I cannot admit that.” The key is understanding that we are children of God and therefore valuable and important to God.

One of my favorite hymns has these words, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Second, peacemaking has to do with loving people individually. Contrary to the way some people act, we are not born with our prejudices. We learn them, and the home is the principle teacher. So we can begin by being peacemakers at home with our children.

Third, peacemaking has to do with a willingness to take the risk. Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, once told the story of a room with two doors. Over one there is a sign, “Lecture on Heaven;” over the other door, is another sign, “Heaven.” People flock through the door marked, “Lecture.” It’s safer and easier to go to a lecture on Heaven, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.

I am afraid that more of us in this world today are willing to go through the door marked, “Lecture on Peace,” but the problem is it doesn’t go anywhere.

Fourth, peacemaking has to do with living righteously. God says everywhere that “peace is the fruit of righteousness.” “The effect of righteousness will be peace” (Isaiah 32:17). And, of course, the idea is that nothing is ever settled until it is settled right.

I want to conclude with a meaningful story from the late Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton. He told about an Indian sheep raiser who had a problem. It seems that his neighbor’s dogs were always killing his sheep. Finally, it got so bad that he had to do something. What were his possibilities? Number one, he could bring a lawsuit. A lot of other people are doing just that. The second thing he could do was to build a stronger fence so the dogs couldn’t have gotten in there. But he didn’t do either of these things. He had a better idea. He simply gave some lambs to his neighbor’s children. And when these lambs began to multiply and their little flocks began to develop, the neighbor tied up the dogs and his problems were over.

  “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus said.

Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways.