In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said peace is hard work, not a passive state of being. Jesus did not tell us to be peaceful people or peace lovers. Jesus said be a peacemaker, which is active work, not passivity and wishful thinking.
Peacemakers = Sons of God
Jesus said being a peacemaker is the ticket to being called a son (daughter) of God: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Perhaps Jesus said it this way because He had read Psalm 34:14: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
Jesus did not only call us to be peaceful or to simply desire peace (though peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23). If asked, “Do you want peace in the world today?”, who would say “No”? Rather, Jesus calls His disciples to something much deeper. By blessing ‘peacemakers’, Jesus emphasized that we are to actively pursue peace, and work hard to make it happen.
Salty Inside, Peaceful Outside
Jesus instructed his disciples to be ‘salty’ when it comes to themselves (i.e., have a strong conviction and sense of sin upon self-examination), but to keep that ‘salt’ in themselves and “…be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50). The fire of self-examination and self-conviction must not spill out to others; rather, when it comes to other people, we are to “seek peace and pursue it”. Keeping peace with others is to be our primary focus, right up there with loving others.
Peace is so important that when Jesus returned following His resurrection, His first words to the disciples were, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). He greeted them with the same phrase one week later when He reappeared to them in the same house (John 20:26). Can you imagine the level of sorrow, fear, stress, and discord that the disciples must have been going through right after Jesus’ death? The temptation to beat up themselves and each other for deserting Jesus (all except John had done so)? At that dark hour, keeping the spirit of unity and peace amongst themselves must have appeared impossible!
In 1 Peter 3:10-12, Peter continued the call to be a peacemaker when he quoted Psalm 34:12-16. Peter said that, if you want to enjoy life, keep your tongue from evil, your lips from deceitful speech, turn from evil, do good, seek peace and pursue it. We are called to have peace with God, with ourselves, and with each other. It will not just fall on us like manna from the sky–we must PURSUE it! That means we often will need to swallow our pride, hold our tongue, be misunderstood or hurt and choose not to react or respond.
It also means we are called to actively look for ways to have peace with God, with ourselves, and with other people. If something is ‘off’ in any of those areas, we are not to let a bitter root grow up to cause trouble and make things ugly (Hebrews 12:14-15). Instead, “make every effort” to live in peace with others (Romans 14:19, Hebrews 12:14). Make the effort, make it every time, and make it all the time. It is hard work to make peace, to pursue peace, and to be at peace with all people. That is why peacemakers bear the honored title ”sons of God.”
Call to Action
Resolve today that you will become a peacemaker, someone who seeks peace and pursues it, on all levels, with all people. Start with those in your family, church and community, actively looking for ways to promote peace “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you…” (Romans 12:18), meaning don’t expect perfection and perfect peace, but don’t let that stop you from making the effort. Sometimes things are what they are, and you must simply do your best and trust God with the rest.
Jesus said, ”Blessed are the peacemakers.” After this study, I realize this is one biblical blessing that I have not yet claimed. If that is true for you, too, then let’s claim it! We only need to pray and ask God to change us, to make us peacemakers in our little corner of the world. We must pray in trust. God does not call us to do things and then set us up for failure. Rather, we trust that what God calls us to do, He will equip us (change us) to be able to do (Hebrews 13:20-21) if we yield to Him in obedience when prompted to be a peacemaker.