“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
Christians, not unlike everyone else, are largely divided on political lines in the United States. One of the big sticking points I’ve seen, among fellow online debaters, is over what it means to be a Peacemaker. Does this mean compromise? Is it a possible justification for war, or civil disobedience? Well, as always, let’s see what Jesus says.
Jesus’ “Aggressive” Side
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 28:15
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others…” Matt 28:23-24
“…you…decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ?If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part…in shedding the blood of the prophets.? …you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Matt 28:29-31
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ?It is written, ?My house shall be called a house of prayer,? but you make it a den of robbers.? Matthew 21:12-13
Jesus’ “aggressive” side shows us that he is not timid. While he never demonstrates aggressive physical behavior toward any individual, compromise is not in his playbook when it comes to selfish behavior. He confronts it head on, and at his own expense.
The Sermon on the Mount
It’s important to note that it’s not fully known whether “The Sermon on the Mount” is one sermon or a compilation of teachings. Biblical authors, however, don’t typically write in the linear way we are used to. They often group together important points. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what verse 9 (“Blessed are the peacemakers”) is grouped with.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:3-11
What I see here is a whole of person approach. A combination of what to strive for and what he gives us. Some of these target the internal, some the external, and some both. Verse 9 is unique, however, in that it is obviously action oriented. “Blessed are the peacemakers…” is followed with outreach to those who are persecuted. Clearly, being a peacemaker is a huge priority in terms of actions. If it is in fact a priority, why don’t we see it anywhere else in scripture? Some wise Lutheran men often told me, “let scripture interpret scripture.” But, I don’t need to quote scripture for you to understand that our only purpose is to love, God and our neighbor. If being a Peacemaker is an action, it has to be one of love. The question then becomes, how?
Jesus Crosses Barriers
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ?Give me a drink.? (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ?How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?? (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ?If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ?Give me a drink,? you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.? John 4:7-10
The most obvious parallel here is segregation. Jesus had no issue challenging the status quo, and challenging it publicly.
Being a Peacemaker Doesn’t Mean Peace
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-36
Whether aggressive or meek, our commanded actions will divide, and that division could hit really close to home.
How are We Judged?
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.? Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ?Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?? And the King will answer them, ?Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.? Matthew 25:35-40
My intention here is not to be overly legalistic. In terms of the actions we should be taking in worship to God, this is a blueprint.
This particular post is not necessarily public policy focused. For that you can see God’s Law is Superior to Man’s Law – Action Through Government .
Our conduct as Peacemakers, however, does not seem to be steeped in compromise. Love is action oriented, and the Peacemaker takes this form. Where I think there seems to be a disconnect, is in humility. The Pharisees were selfish, they saw everything through their own lens. The theme I take most from these sections of scripture is to base your actions on your audience. Confront those who’s selfishness is hurting people, and sacrifice everything for those who are hurting. Of course, we are not Jesus, so we have to be extra careful about how aggressively we judge others. But if our neighbor is hurting, I have no qualms about saying we should confront those who are hurting them in a peaceful way.