Sometimes a marriage gets eroded by daily conflict. There are many small arguments, misunderstandings over minor things, and words that pierce.
Sometimes a household is unsettled by tension. The kids are bickering with each other, the parents are getting frustrated with the kids, and sometimes it’s just hard to live under same roof.
Sometimes a church is angry and divided. There is a controversial issue that needs resolving, and discussions always end with people getting upset with each other.
Many scenarios can be imagined. For in every earthly relationship, there is a real potential for discord and conflict. So we all need to hear God’s words and wisdom. Our God is the God of peace—He loves peace, and He makes peace! And Christ pronounces this truth in Matthew 5:9 about those who are privileged to reflect the character of God in their relationships:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Now, when we use the word ‘peace,’ it is often in connection with negative events. When two countries are at war, they try to arrange ‘peace talks’ which hopefully will result a truce. Or after an unruly dinnertime, Dad and Mom look at each other and say, “I just wish there could be some peace around here.” But true peace is more than the absence of hostility.
The Biblical idea of peace is about wholeness, when things are as they should be. It is when a person enjoys well-being not just in body, but in mind and spirit. And it is when a person’s relationship with God and relationships with others are marked by harmony.
We said it happens so readily that barriers of resentment are allowed to divide people. Conflict erupts because of what was done in the past, or tension simmers because of an unwillingness to forgive, or because of differences in opinion. But we have peace when our earthly relationships are good and right, when there is proper fellowship and unbroken goodwill between us and other people.
Yet there is an even more fundamental peace that we need, and that is peace with God. In the beginning, God designed us to enjoy good relations with him. This relationship was shattered by our sin, but because God is God, it is not his will to leave it broken. God graciously resolves this fundamental disharmony, and He does it through his Son.
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be called the Prince of Peace. Or Ephesians 2:14 says about Christ, “He himself is our peace.” Through Christ we can have true peace with God: forgiveness of sin, healing of hurts, restoration of life, and even the promise of eternal glory.
By his own peacemaking, Christ has opened up new possibilities for how we live with each other here on earth. So He pronounces a beautiful blessing not just on those who love peace, but on those who make peace.
There is an important difference. A person may know that there is something wrong in one of his relationships, whether in his family, his church, or somewhere else. He knows that something should be done to fix it. But taking steps to restoration is difficult. It might require a hard conversation—or several hard conversations—and all the uncomfortable moments that result.
Making peace is difficult, so a person might decide to do nothing. Almost all of us hate conflict, so we allow the trouble to remain. We say that we are choosing inaction or avoidance ‘for the sake of peace.’ But are we really? Is there actually peace between you and your son? You and your boss? You and your wife?
Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
Blessed is the person who addresses the issue.
Blessed is the person who finds a way to heal division.
Blessed is the person who works hard on having good relationships.
Peacemaking means that we’ll have to listen well and try to understand. It means we’ll make the effort to build bridges and to find common ground. Psalm 34:4 exhorts us, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Seek it, God says: Don’t just love peace, but make peace. And there is this word from Romans 12:18,
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
That can sound like an impossible assignment. Other people can be so difficult, and sometimes we’d rather keep arguing than yield any ground.
This is why as peacemakers, we need to return often to the Prince of Peace. Consider how He lived, and remember what He gave us. Think of what Jesus said when preparing to leave his disciples, when He declared, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you” (John 14:27).
This peace was hard-fought, requiring his whole life, even his death. But Christ achieved peace for all who believe in him—peace with God. And his peace is so powerful, it can permeate and transform every human relationship. The New Testament marvels at how Christ by his saving work brought together Jew and Gentile in a true harmony through faith in him. Christ confronted the deepest human divide that there ever was, and He brought reconciliation.
Through Christ this remains our calling, as families, among our friends, in our congregations, and even with people at work. Are we doing what leads to peace?
Remember, it takes an effort, what Jesus calls peacemaking. It can mean picking up the phone and talking about what happened, reaching out to the one estranged, being willing to forgive, being prepared to move on.
Is that the kind of people we are? Are we those who seek peace and pursue it?
In any challenge of division and discord, Christ encourages us with the promise that peacemakers enjoy a beautiful reward: “They shall be called children of God!”
Peacemakers begin to resemble their peacemaking God.