Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9 NIV)
Peace to Jesus was not simply the absence of conflict. Peace to Jesus and the Jews of His day is an overwhelming sense of well-being that extends through family to the community around it. People being people, peace must be pursued. It will not be achieved by doing nothing. Much of the time, making peace between people will involve initiating conflict. One of the best expressions I’ve heard to describe this process is “constructive contention.”
We begin learning how to make peace by practicing the fifth beatitude, blessed are the merciful. When we are hurt, we are willing to forgive and then pursue seeking the repentance that will bring genuine peace to the relationship. We care enough about the other person and our relationship to risk some short-term stress to achieve long-term peace.
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:3-4 NIV)
What Jesus instructs us to do is not easy, but not following this process is a sure way to create resentment and bitterness that are guaranteed to destroy peace.
Often people we care about are experiencing conflict that does not seem to involve us. We may not have had any part in creating the hurt that exists, but if two members of our family or community are separated from each other peace within our community is impossible.
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2-3 NIV)
Paul is asking these two women to resolve their conflict and be at peace. He also recognizes that they may not be able to resolve their differences without help. Often, we need someone with an outside and objective point of view to help us see our part in the conflict and initiate conversations that can move us toward repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. This requires great wisdom, skill, and effort, and is the constant work of the children of God.
Although peace among people is very important to God, the ultimate peace-making role is to work for the reconciliation of another person with God. God has done most of the work. He sent Jesus to die for all of us to make His forgiveness of us possible. Our task is to let people know that forgiveness is available and encourage them to repent and receive it.
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. (John 16:7-12 NIV)
One of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to convince people that they need forgiveness. As peace-makers I don’t think we spend enough time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to do just that in the lives of people we love who are separated from God. I know I don’t and I’m really trying to change that.
Jesus is the ultimate peace-maker and always our best example. Sometimes I wish we had more of the day to day conversations that took place with Jesus and the disciples. They were men who had long held deep differences with one another, yet they experienced peace following Jesus. He loved them deeply and was willing to rebuke them regardless of whether they had wronged Him or each other. In the end Jesus gave His life to bring us peace with God and with each other.
Scriptures and Discussion Questions:
What is harmony? What does it have to do with creating peace in a community?
What character trait leads to peace in our relationships?
What is the opposite character trait and how does work against peace?
What attitudes will destroy peace?
What is required to eliminate these attitudes in a community?
Why is peace not always possible?
What causes fights and quarrels among us?
What are you fighting with someone or God about? Why?
How does James tell us to end the fight and find peace?
Why could Jews and Gentiles not find peace? What separated them?
How much was Jesus willing to invest to achieve peace between Jews, Gentiles, and God?
What does it mean “to reconcile”?
Why are relationships so important to peace?
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
What is the worldly point of view of people?
What is the worldly point of view of Jesus?
What is God’s point of view regarding Jesus?
What is God’s point of view regarding people?
When we see people from God’s point of view what will we do?
1 Peter 3:10-12
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