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9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. NIV New International Version9You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. MSG The Message Bible
9Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous--with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God! AMP The Amplified Bible
9God blesses those who work for peace,for they will be called the children of God. NLT New Living Translation
9God makes happy those who make peace between people. They will be called God's sons. WE Worldwide English (New Testament)
Happy are those who make peace, for they will be known as sons of God!
J. B. Phillips Translation
9 O the bliss of those who make men friends with each other, for they shall be ranked as the sons of God.Translation by William Barclay
People who make peace happen are God's children
Source not known to me
If we are going to bring about peace in the world, we have to begin with the children.
Others will recognize us as children of God when we live in peace with those around us rather than fighting to get our own way.
What can be said about peace that could not be dismissed as just an illusion, a pipe dream, or as naive, trite, ignorant, stupid, ill-informed, other-worldly, irrelevant, boring, out-of-touch, unworthy, of no consequence! Peace sounds like a political concept. And there's nothing like mixing politics and religion if you want to witness an explosion of opinions and pent-up rage. Lively and angry words will bounce off the walls and fly madly about in all directions. It seems one needs a helmet when talking about peace! Maybe even some body armor!
Why do we need to talk about peace? Why would Jesus give his blessing to peacemakers? As individuals and families, as members of society and citizens of the world, we long for peace and security. Peace on earth does begin with each one of us. Peace is the fertile soil out of which the good things of life can grow. It doesn't just come naturally, but we can learn to live together peaceably. Peace, freedom, reconciliation--it sure beats conflict, hostility and aggression.
In the first few verses of the Bible we read that God created order out of chaos. The waters were raging, it was totally dark. Everything was formless, desolate and hopelessly awry. God hovered over the turbulent conditions, and spoke light into the darkness. Then God separated the adverse forces and established a framework of harmony. God made peace happen. And it was good.
So it is only natural that Jesus would refer to peacemakers as children of God. Blessed are those who mediate peace, who speak light over the darkness, who are intentionally present in chaotic situations, who have a vision for peace and work to bring it to pass. You who are peacemakers are definitely God's sons and daughters. Without you, we would live in chaos, violence and hopelessness.
For starters, let's look at some images of peace in the Bible. "Go in peace" is a common phrase meaning that we part company with someone, knowing that whatever has happened between us in the past is valuable shared history, and we wish each other well going forward. The phrase about holding one's peace is also used frequently. We "hold our peace", specifically our tongue, when the timing is bad and it's best to leave our feelings and opinions unexpressed for the common or immediate good.
Peace in the Bible is often connected to God. Peace of God, with God or from God. Righteousness and joy are associated with peace. Paul's letters include the salutation, "Grace and peace to you", as though that was the best there is to say to another person. A river of peace, or the abundance of peace, is reserved for those who obey the commands of God and walk in God's ways.
A classic picture of peace is the lion and the lamb who lie down together. This is an unnatural image, not of this world. A mystery, a miracle, a picture of heaven? Micah 4:3 speaks of beating swords into plows and spears into pruning tools. The promised Messiah was said to be the Prince of Peace, and at Jesus' birth angels proclaimed peace on earth and goodwill to all.
Most of the stories of the Bible are not about peace. Our spiritual father, Abraham, once took up arms. Raiders had seized his nephew, Lot and all Lot's possessions. Abraham and 318 of his workers went after the raiders and rescued the nephew. After the exodus, Moses presided over some major battles. Joshua "conquered" the people native to the Promised Land. The kings of Israel were military leaders who led their troops against neighboring tribes. The great king David in particular was a man of war. Supposedly he was creating peace, which lasted a whole generation or about 40 years. As you read the Old Testament, for all the talk of peace, there was very little of it.
The people of the New Testament lived under Roman occupation. Jesus came preaching, healing and teaching. He proclaimed a kingdom of heaven for any who would believe. And unlike Abraham, God did not rescue Jesus when Jesus was arrested and condemned to death. Instead God was once more hovering over the chaos, speaking light into the darkest of nights, and creating something new in the heart and spirit of his people.
My favorite image of peace in the Bible is in I Kings 4:25 and repeated again in Micah 4:4. Peace is pictured as--every man with his family sitting under their own vine and fig tree! No fear. At rest from all enemies. Each family being secure with a home to call their own and a means to provide the basics of life. In an agrarian society, a peaceful society existed when there were no enemies intent on taking what you had. In peacetime, no one would rape your land, your wife or your daughters. Your sons would not be lost to war. You could plant, nurture, harvest and live off your crops without fear that someone would come and destroy your work and put your survival in jeopardy. In a peaceful environment, no one would drive you away from your home and into the caves in the hillside. You could live without fear and rest secure from all enemies. That was peace.
"Every man under his own vine and fig tree" creates an atmosphere of respect and respectability, initiative and industry, connectedness and satisfaction. It eliminates shame and humiliation, poverty and want, and the need for revenge and retaliation.
History tells us that poverty and hopelessness breed violence; injustice and inequality lead to bitterness and revenge. We know that as long as there is exploitation, the rich and powerful have reason to be afraid. Those who take from others need to spend an inordinate amount of time, money and energy guarding what they have taken. Raiding, fleecing, out-smarting someone--it's not a good idea. It doesn't make for peace.
I live in PA Dutch Country and one of the things I like to show visitors is the Amish cemeteries. When you look across an Amish cemetery, all the stones are the same size. They are relatively small, just big enough to do the job and no bigger. I think there is a good lesson in that. We run into problems when we think the life of one person is more important than the life of the next person.
It disturbs me that we Americans think its OK to fight our wars overseas in the countries of other people. As though we are better, more valuable than they are! Boasts about being #1 may create excitement at a sporting event, but it has no place in international relations. #1 has no equals, only inferiors. That attitude cannot make a lasting peace.
I recently read an article about producing homegrown fuel from corn. I cannot vouch for the validity of this statement, but even if its only partly true, it raises a flag of caution: "The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol could feed one person for a year. . . .The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that world grain consumption will increase by 20 million tons this year. Of that, 14 million tons will be used to fuel cars in the U.S., leaving only 6 million tons to cover the world's growing food needs." [Lester Brown, Fortune magazine, Aug. 21, 2006, p16.] It sounds like grain wars may be next! What are we Americans thinking?--does our way of life have more value than the life of a hungry, poor person! It will not make for peace.
"Why do they hate us so?" That was the question in America after 9/11/01. Five years later, we still do not know the answer. How could we know; we refuse to talk to the enemy! How can we understand the hostility when we refuse to listen? One way to increase our safety would be to stop making more enemies.
If the picture of peace is that each family (in our neighborhoods and in our world) feels safe and has what they need, then we must be alert to the accelerating gulf between those families receiving top dollar paychecks while the income and resources of the middle class are shrinking. It doesn't make for peace.
There's much more to peace than the big public issues. Peacemaking is a significant part of all our personal relationships. Wherever you have influence, that is where you need to work at creating and maintaining peace.
There were peace offerings in the Old Testament, in the New Testament we are instructed to live in peace; maybe when we live together peacefully, it is a gift we offer to God. Romans 12:18 says, "If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Peace is as fragile, and as resilient, as the people we relate to every day.
What are some first steps toward peace? What can we do today? What is one peacemaking action I could take right now?
Anything that makes life better for another person contributes to peace. Dictators do not create real peace--therefore reconcile differences without destroying the spirit and uniqueness of the other. Think of winners and losers in this way: Both sides must give something, both sides must win something. Anything that builds another person up, reduces the likelihood that they will commit an act of violence. Peacemakers are truly children of God--reborn, starting over again, in the image and likeness of God. Full of joy, happy, blessed by the miracle of peace.
Peace, Brother. Shalom. Paz. Salam. Amani. May peace prevail. Remember, it does depend on you. Make it happen!
Finally, "Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 TEV
Depending on your circumstances in life, you may know little or no peace. But despite those circumstances, Jesus wants you to receive his peace. Even if you are required to do what you do not wish to do, or forced to go where you do not want to go--you can know his peace and rest secure in Jesus' arms. He is the Good Shepherd, the calm in every storm, the comfort in every sorrow, the peace that knows no boundaries.