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WAR AND PEACE: Wrestling with Scripture #19

Matthew 5:9 states “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Wow. What can possibly compare to the privilege of being accepted as a child of the Most High? I’ll confess that for most of my life, I felt I had this verse nailed. In a world full of people holding grudges, seeking revenge, and posting memes about ridding their lives of toxic people and narcissists, I could never think of anyone toward whom I felt any particular ill-will. Sure, there were a handful who rubbed me the wrong way at times, but as much as it was possible for me, I tried to get along with everyone. I avoided conflict, suffered hurt feelings in silence, and did my best to live in harmony with those around me. In the arena of war and peace, I felt pretty confident I’d enlisted in the right army.

Until I heard a sermon series on the Beatitudes and began to see these eight attributes, not as individual opportunities to earn favor with God, but as the necessary progression of Christian maturity. It’s no accident that Jesus moves from the pure of heart to focus on peacemakers. Peace can only radiate naturally from us if our hearts are properly aligned with God. To end the war raging within us, we must defeat the chaos of sin in our hearts.

The word translated peacemaker is derived from two Greek words which mean to provide or produce quiet, rest, or peace. Nothing we can do or that the world offers will produce this kind of harmony. It’s only through Jesus, who is called the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6) that we can find or provide real and lasting peace, for as Paul says in Ephesians 2:14: “… He Himself is our peace.”

Clearly, the only way to experience this depth of contentment is to be reconciled to the God of peace. For as Col 1:19-20 states, “For it pleased the Father that in Him [Jesus] all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him …. having made peace through the blood of His cross.” And again, in Romans 5:1: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Once saved, Jesus promises that if we learn from Him, we “will find rest” for our souls (Matt 11:29). This is the supernatural rest that Jesus offers in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives …” and Paul writes of in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God’s peace is not dependent on us, other people, or outward circumstances. It’s included in the fruit of the Spirit given to all believers.

So, why aren’t all Christians obvious peacemakers? Probably because many have the same skewed view of peace that I did. Rather than spreading lasting peace, I focused my peacemaking on a worldly kind of non-aggression—a Switzerland-like policy of neutrality in order not to “make waves.” It’s an easy trap to fall into. No one wants to create ill-will with a co-worker, alienate an old friend, or stir up bad blood with a family member, but far too often our good intentions keep us silent when we should speak boldly for Christ.

Ultimately, there is nothing less neutral—and more harmful—than to know Jesus, to experience His love, forgiveness, and peace and to not share it with the lost. To be true peacemakers then, we need to be both evangelists and warriors for Christ since it’s impossible to generate lasting peace into anyone’s life without introducing them to Jesus, the source of all peace.

We are all called to spread the Gospel, and we all have reasons why we usually don’t. Evangelism is hard. Not everyone will receive the Good News. Some will be offended. Some amused. Some uninterested. It shouldn’t stop us from trying. It might help to pray for a heart that breaks daily for our unsaved family and friends. Write down their names and then recite John 3:16 until you understand that God wants no one on your list to perish—but some will if we don’t share our faith. We need God’s guidance and discernment to see all of life as a spiritual battle where the enemy of our souls is waging constant war against us and people we love.

To have both the courage and the desire to join God’s army in this spiritual warfare, we need to put on the armor described in Ephesians 6:13-17. It may seem daunting but notice that it is God’s armor we wear—not our own. Equipped with God’s truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and Word, what enemy can defeat us? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

In the words of the inspiring contemporary Christian song, “Great I Am,” by Jared Anderson: “There is no power in hell or any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I AM.” Let’s go in peace and share the Good News in the name of He alone who is worthy.

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