BEATITUDES SERIES: Peacemakers
Matthew 5:9 (ESV): “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
As I was thinking about Matthew 5:9, another passage from the New Testament came to mind and I believe fleshes out Matthew 5:9 very well and all that Jesus means to teach us.
2 Corinthians 5:14–21 (ESV): “14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that One has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
PEACE CHRIST GAVE US (verses 14-17)
The first part of the passage, verses 14-17, focus on the peace that Jesus Christ gives us. If I were going to summarize verses 14-17 in one word, I would use: regeneration. Regeneration is a fancy long word that means “new birth.”
Regeneration in verse 14 in that we die and now are under love.
Regeneration in verse 15 in that we live for God not ourselves.
Regeneration in verse 16 in that we are alive spiritually.
Regeneration in verse 17 in that we are a new creation in Christ.
Paul says we are “in Christ.” Before we get to the action oriented part of the passage, the Apostle Paul explains some thought processes and ways of thinking that we should have as Christians. Paul explains to us, and to those to whom he is writing, that we are “in Christ.” That is a particular way of being. Christians are “in Christ” which means we are new people and have a new position with God because of Jesus Christ.
When I see that phrase “in Christ,” I cannot help but think of John 15 where Jesus Christ explains what that phrase “in Christ” means. Jesus uses a gardening metaphor to explain what it means to be “in Christ”:
Being in Christ means we have accepted the Word of Jesus Christ and we believe in Him. Being in Christ means not only that we believe in Him, but that fruit and action and results come from that belief. Being in Christ means that the faith that we profess impacts our actions, attitudes, ways of living, worldview, the way we manage money, what we think about racial issues, how we define sexuality, and every aspect of our lives. Being in Christ means love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control are fruit of our lives. Being in Christ also means, as we will see in a minute, sharing Christ with others who do not know Him.
Paul says, “the old has gone and the new has come.” Believers in Jesus are brand new people because of Jesus. Christians view their pasts differently than others who are not in Christ. Christians neither hang onto the past nor are we defined by it. Whether our past has been filled with goodness or filled with pain, we let go of the past so that in the present and in the future the Holy Spirit can fill us for God’s divine purposes.
Grace covers guilt which is peace with God.
We are lovers of the clean slate which is peace with God.
Forgiveness rules our memories which is peace with God.
Holiness now fuels our motivations which is peace with God.
Our identity is in Jesus Christ which is peace with God.
PEACE WE GIVE OTHERS (verses 18-21)
The second part of this passage, verses 18-21, shares the same word with us 4 times in just a few verses: reconciliation. Reconciliation is a fancy long word that means “to change” and is a relationship word that means “to change from enmity [hostility] to friendship.” The Bible uses this word to show us what God accomplishes by exercising grace towards us in the form of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Here is where we begin to see the connection between Matthew 5:9 and the teaching about peacemakers and 2 Corinthians 5 about reconciliation. It is very much the same thing. Peacemaking is reconciliation. Reconciliation is peacemaking.
The chief function of the apostles was to act as channels of communication between God and human beings to explain what God has done for them by way of His Son, Jesus.
What has He done?
What did Jesus do for us?
The Christian faith is primarily concerned with God’s personal relationship with men and women. Unfortunately, because of sin, we by default have an estranged relationship with God. We enter this life divorced from Him. Sin means that people can and do ignore God. Sin has placed a huge obstacle between us and God.
God sent Jesus Christ as the way of reconciliation… a way of peace. He had a message of reconciliation and He is also the way of reconciliation. He had a message of peace with God and was at the same time the peacemaker. Reconciliation means forgiveness takes place between God and us and Jesus pays the price for it. God poured our sins and the guilt for our sins onto Jesus Christ while He was on the cross. He paid for us. He suffered for us. He made reconciliation possible. That is why the verses say that because of Jesus, it is possible for sins not to be counted against us.
Reconciliation is about building bridges and forgiveness and grace between us and God. Building bridges is peacemaking. Offering forgiveness or helping someone find forgiveness is peacemaking.
Helping someone understand the grace of God for them is peacemaking.
The message about reconciliation between us and God is our job and purpose and makes us peacemakers. You see, once we ourselves find peace with God, we then should want to share that way of peace with those around us. We become peacemaker ambassadors.
The last part of this passage speaks about our responsibilities as a peacemaking ambassador. It echoes Matthew 5:9. There are several truths we can draw from the Apostle Paul calling us “Christ’s ambassadors,” which give us ways to think, attitudes, and actions in our lives. Paul calls us ambassadors for a reason! We are called to be peacemakers for a reason!
First, we are citizens of Heaven. As believers, we are part of the Kingdom of God that is not of this world (John 18:36). That means this world and the purposes of this world do not define us. That means we follow the rules and way of living of Heaven and not Earth. That means this world is not our home because we are just passing through. We see this emphasis elsewhere in the New Testament from the Apostle Paul.
We are peacemaking witnesses that Jesus Christ came to bring reconciliation between us and God. We are to share what we have experienced in Jesus Christ. We are to share the message of hope and peace in Christ. Our message for others, who are still lost as citizens of this world, is that God sent Jesus Christ to reconcile all people to Himself by offering forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Our responsibilities extend to anyone we meet who are not yet citizens of Heaven. Family, friends, co-workers, people we like, people we dislike… anyone who does not know about Jesus.