Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Part 8 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 5:9

You can listen to this sermon here.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). 

Church Splits

Some church splits would be funny if they weren’t so tragic. In the little town of Centerville, Georgia, there was originally one Presbyterian church. Then in 1911, a disagreement arose in the church over whether to take up the offering before or after the sermon. Some members of the congregation left and began a new church: “Centerville Reformed Presbyterian Church.” Just four years later another church split occurred over whether to have flowers in the sanctuary or not. The church that split off was renamed “Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church of Centerville.”

Through the years several more church splits occurred so that the one original church split into 48 different churches. The last split was over whether or not it was a sin to check your email on a Sunday. Several people left the Second Street First Ninth Westminster Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church and named their new church “The Presbyterian Totally Reformed Covenantal Westministerian Sabbatarian Regulative Credo-Communionist Ammillennial Presuppostional Church of Centerville.” [1]

The God of Peace

Three times in the New Testament God is described as “the God of peace” (Rom. 16:20; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20). Peace is not merely the absence of conflict. [2] God wants our relationships to bring happiness to our lives. [3]

Because of our sinfulness, we need peace with God. God has reconciled us to himself through the death of Christ (“making peace by the blood of his cross,” Col. 1:20).

God is a peacemaker, and he wants us to be peacemaker. 

This statement raises two questions: (1) What are the benefits of being peacemakers? (2) How can we become better peacemakers?

What Are the Benefits of Being Peacemakers? 

We are to strive for peace in all our relationships, especially our relationships within the church. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3, NIV). [4]

1. When we are peacemakers, we demonstrate that we are children of God.

Peacemakers “shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). “In Jewish thought, ‘son’ often bears the meaning ‘partaker of the character of.’” [5] This doesn’t mean that we become children of God by being peacemakers “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3:26; cf. John 1:12).

2. When we are peacemakers, we become persuasive witnesses to the world. 

Jesus prayed that his followers would “all be one…so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).

How Can We Become Better Peacemakers?

Sometimes it’s not possible to achieve peace. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18). Sometimes conflict arises from doing what’s right (Matt. 10:34-36). Peacemaking isn’t easy.

If we want to become better peacemakers, we must remind ourselves of what God has done to make peace with us.

What did God do to make peace with us? He sent his Son to die for us. If God was willing to make peace with us through the death of Christ, shouldn’t we be willing to make peace with others?

[2] This means that peacemaking is not appeasement or the toleration of wrongdoing. When our motto is “peace at any price,” what we achieve is not really peace.
[3] The Hebrew word for “peace” (shalom) means “well-being.”
[4] Conflicts in churches often arise when we aren’t careful with our words (“A soft answer turns away wrath,” Prov. 15:1) or when we think we can read people’s thoughts.
[5] D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World, 28.

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