Today: Monday, December 09, 2019

Beatitudes #7: Blessed are the peacemakers    (8/31/2008 )

'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.'

'Peacemakers' suggests the blue berets of the UN, as seen in many world hotspots. But they are peacekeepers, not peacemakers. They try to maintain something that exists—however precariously. A peacemaker, by definition, is involved in conflict, dealing with something broken, and trying to restore harmony and balance. It's a dangerous and often painful place to be—not an obvious source of blessing!

The biblical understanding of peace is much more than a condition of ‘not-trying-to–harm-each-other'. It's not about the absence of something, but the positive achievement of wholeness and health in both individuals and communities. It's personal as well as social; it involves emotional and mental health, as well as military ceasefires or MakePovertyHistory.

A peacemaker must be concerned about Iraq, trade justice, treatment of minorities, and their relationship with their next-door neighbour or their mother-in-law. In short, it is an attitude to life and to others—not a job description.

A peacemaker must demonstrate the other blessings, too, if they're to be effective bringers of peace! Poor in spirit (knowing their limitations and relying totally on God); pure in heart (showing integrity and single-mindedness in their pursuit of truth); merciful (because condemnation can play no part in healing or reconciliation); meek (because peacemaking is not about imposing power or self on others, but seeking what is best for the other—a definition of love).

Nelson Mandela's years of solitary confinement taught him to become a peacemaker and he became the leader and focus of a new ‘rainbow nation'. Martin Luther King challenged racial discrimination, but also sought a united future with white Americans. Gandhi used non-violence to confront colonialism, while Yitzhak Rabin dared to seek peace with Israel 's enemies. Alexander Solzhenitsyn criticised communism.

They all experienced the final blessing—persecution—for righteousness' sake; either through imprisonment or assassination. It's a very strange blessing, but it is a blessing because peacemakers display a ‘family resemblance' to God. It's the very nature of God to bring peace (health, wholeness, completeness) where there is division, conflict, and suffering.

The world is not as it should be. Individualism has broken our relationship with God and his created order, with others, and with ourselves. Self-interest and self-centredness destroy community and the desire and ability to love fully. The growing interest in nature and spirituality reflects a sense of dis-ease in society: a sense of loss, or a realisation that there must be so much more to life than what we presently experience.

The Christian response is to look to Jesus, the ultimate peacemaker, whose life and death were devoted to reconciling those separated, healing those who are hurt. His first words to his followers when he appeared to them after his death and resurrection were ‘Peace be with you'. He gave them the gift of forgiveness—the foundation of peace, the only way to reconciliation.

To put it crudely: peacemaking is the family business, and all Christians are called to that role. Anyone who seeks to make peace is showing something of God's ‘DNA'.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Francis of Assisi

Think about:
The most powerful words are often the hardest to say:

I'm sorry.
I forgive you.
I love you.

But without them, where would we be?

Challenge: To whom, or to what situation, can you bring some peace this week? How? Why?

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