January 12, 2021
Our World Needs Peace. That’s never been more apparent then in the face of what happened in our nation’s capital this past week, and across this nation during the summer and fall. We live in a day where conflict, discord, arguments and strife are an everyday occurrence. There seems to be no end of marches, protests, riots and infighting We don’t have economic peace, religious peace, racial peace, family peace or even personal peace. There are arguments over face masks, controversies over church closures, conflict over this election, contradictions in the media. And all this has led to tension within families, disdain toward those who don’t agree with you, and bewilderment over the division that continually plagues our everyday lives. Never has there been a day when we need peace more than today. Our world needs peace.
But not just any peace. Our World Needs God’s Peace! You see, God’s peace has nothing to do with politics,power, compromises, negotiated truces or treaties. God’s peace does not gloss over arguments or sweep conflict under the carpet. God’s peace does not rationalize or excuse evil behavior. And God’s peace is not a peace that can be brought about by Presidents or Senators, legislators or laws.
In fact, the most that human peace can offer is a truce, the temporary cessation of hostilities. But a truce is no more than a cold war. Until disagreements or hatreds are resolved, whether they be in our country or in our relationships… our conflicts merely go underground, where they tend to fester, grow and eventually break out again. However, God’s peace not only ceases hostilities, but settles issues and even brings parties together in mutual love and harmony.
So yes, our world needs God’s peace. But our world also needs Peacemakers. Our world needs people who have peace with God and who can help others find peace with God. Our world needs peacemakers who can mend broken relationships and heal our broken world. And the good news today is that if you know Jesus, the Prince of Peace, you are the peacemaker our world needs. For Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
So today, I want us to dig into three truths about the peace our world needs from God’s Word. First, we’re going to take a fresh look at God’s peace – what it is. Next, we will look at the enemy of peace – to help us make sense of why there’s so much strife and conflict today. And finally, we will look at the character of a peacemaker and why being a peacemaker is such a blessing. So let’s begin with…
God’s peace: Just what is God’s peace? God’s peace is a creative, aggressive force for goodness. I can get on board with that definition. It comes from the Jewish greeting “shalom” wishes peace for the person greeted. It expresses the desire that the person you are greeting will have ALL the righteousness and goodness God can give. Another way of saying shalom is this “May you experience God’s highest good for you.” And one of the highest good God can give you is mutual love and harmony in ALL your relationships. That’s God’s desire for your relationship with Him; it His desire for your relationship with your spouse, your children, your neighbors and friends. And it is His desire for your relationships with one another in the Church. That’s why in God’s Word we are commanded to actively pursue peace with one another, to strive for peace with all men, and so far as it depends on us, we are to live peaceably with all people. In other words, as people of peace, we are to live as peacemakers. We are to be creative, aggressive forces for goodness in all our relationships.
Now, I bet you’ve never seen yourself this way. But this is why Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” You see, calling someone “a son of God“ is different than calling someone a child of God. The difference is slight, but significant. In Jewish thought, “son” often bears the meaning of the character of that person. If someone calls you the “son of a dog,” that’s not a compliment, it’s an insult to your character. They’re saying your character is like that of ”a dog.” That’s a negative use. But when someone calls you a son of God, that’s a compliment. That means your character resembles your Father in heaven. You are like God who aggressively seeks the good of others. You love like the Father loves. You work to bring peace in all relationships. You do whatever it takes to help people live in harmony and experience goodness. So then, to be called or identified as a “son of God” this is the blessing Jesus announces in this beatitude.
The blessing is the reward of hearing others say, “I see God in you.” They see how you are a creative, aggressive force for goodness. They see you as someone who seeks the best for others. They see you as a peacemaker. Now, I don’t know about you – but this description of the God of peace has caught my attention. I want to resemble my heavenly Father. I want to know the blessing of being told, “I see God in you.” Isn’t that something you want hear said about you? “You ever met Frank, he’s a force for goodness.” “Let me introduce Nancy, she reminds me of my Father in heaven.” “Do you know Dan, when I see Him, I learn what God is like.” Wouldn’t you like others to see God in you? That’s the blessing of a peacemaker. A peacemaker is like the God of peace – A peacemaker is like our Father in heaven who is a creative, aggressive force for goodness! And if there were ever a time where we needed people to be creative and aggressive forces for goodness – it’s right now.
But here’s the reason why there’s so little of that force for good today. Here why there’s so much conflict, hatred and strife in the world today, rather than goodness. It’s because peace has an enemy. And The enemy of peace is sin. Think about it. What does sin cause us to do? Sin lives for self. Sin causes us to live in rebellion to God. Sin doesn’t want what God wants. Sin wants things its own way. And when everyone is living for self – and seeking to do things their way, not God’s way – the result is separation, the breaking of relationship, strife, conflict, disharmony. When a person sins against God, he breaks the relationship with God. He separates himself from life with God and experiences disharmony with God. And that lack of harmony with God spills over to ever other relationship. Sin is why our world is filled with anger, resentment, hatred, strife, division and even war.
This is why sinful men cannot bring about the peace we desire, because they do not know peace with God or peace within. For when sinful man lives for himself, he doesn’t even have the desire to create peace for others. And even if he had that desire, it would only so he could gain something for himself by working for peace. God’s Word tells it as it is: A sinful heart cannot create peace: If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:14-16 A sinful heart cannot create peace. Sin produces nothing but strife and conflict. Sin is the enemy of peace.
So then, if sin is the enemy of peace and our world needs God’s peace, peace must come through peacemakers. Here now is where this message speaks to us, to every Christ follower. For if you know the Prince of Peace; if the God of all peace dwells in you, then you already have the nature of a peacemaker. So we must ask ourselves what then are the characteristics of a peacemaker? There are at least three characteristics of a peacemaker, and the first is this:
First, A Peacemaker enjoys peace with God Since sin is the enemy of peace and makes us enemies with God, before we can be a peacemaker, we must experience peace with God. That’s where Jesus comes in. He is God’s peacemaker. The Bible says this about Jesus as our peacemaker: Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation— Colossians 1:21-22
Jesus made peace with God for us through the blood he shed for us on the cross. At the cross all of man’s hatred and anger was vented against God. On the cross the Son of God was mocked, cursed, spit upon, pierced, reviled, and killed. Yet, through that violence God has brought us peace. Jesus’ righteousness confronted man’s greatest wickedness on the cross, and righteousness won. And because righteousness won, peace was won for anyone who trusts in Him. For once you trust in Jesus, you are no longer an enemy of God, but a child of God. You are no longer alienated from God but accepted by God. There is no longer anything that comes between you and God. You can now see God face to face. You can know God personally. You can rest in His grace and enjoy peace with God. And once you know peace with God, you want others to know what you have. That leads us to the second characteristic of a peacemaker:
Secondly, A Peacemaker helps others find peace with God Since we’ve been reconciled with the God of peace through the blood of Jesus, it is only natural to want others to experience this great peace. As Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 Jesus gives us a peace that the world does not know. And yet every heart longs to know this peace with God. That is why then, we are called to share the gospel of peace.
Here’s our calling spelled out for us by Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: Therefore, if anyone is inChrist, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
We have the good news. Because Jesus died for us, and our sins have been taken away, there is nothing that separates us from God. We’ve been reconciled with God. We’ve been set free from the power and penalty of sin. We are no longer condemned. We’ve been redeemed. We’ve been made right with God. We no longer have to prove ourselves to God. For we’ve been accepted by God, because Jesus now lives in us. So we now enjoy peace with God. We enjoy harmony with God. We know the love of God. We have the peace of God. And our world longs for this peace. Your neighbor longs for this peace. And he can’t find it in the world. But Jesus gives His peace to anyone who trusts in Him. Jesus is our peace!
And now God calls us to be His messengers of His peace. This is not just a role for pastors – it’s a calling for anyone who knows Jesus. For if you know Jesus, if you know His peace, that makes you a peacemaker – a messenger of reconciliation who can help others find peace with God. A peacemaker helps others find peace with God. That’s not something we have to do, it’s something we get to do, because God has given us His peace. That’s the second characteristic of a peacemaker. Now the third,
Thirdly, A Peacemaker helps others heal broken relationships Because you have peace with God, you now have the spiritual resources to engage in the hard work of resolving conflict, bringing understanding to disagreements, confronting sin and building bridges that can restore harmony.
Our spiritual resources for peacemaking do not come from ourselves, they come from God’s wisdom. This is why we sometimes struggle with trying to heal relationships. We try to make peace with our own wisdom or out of our own strength. But most of the time it’s just way to hard. It’s difficult to heal a broken relationship when there’s been much hurt or misunderstanding. Emotions get in the way. Our ego gets in the way. And if you’re like me, you want to avoid conflict. It’s not easy mending fences. It’s not easy restoring harmony. And that’s precisely why we need God’s wisdom and not our own. Listen to what God gives us to be peacemakers. This list is recorded for us in James 3: The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18
With His wisdom we can contend with being contentious, we can disagree without being disagreeable, we can confront without being abusive. We can be impartial, considerate and successful. For when we allow God’s peace to lead us; when we genuinely seek what is best for another; when we are full of mercy and not full of ourselves, God will use us to heal broken relationships. And then we will be the kind of peacemakers Jesus speaks of in the Sermon on the Mount, when he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
You see, right now our world needs God’s peace. I don’t think there’s any question about that. So rather than bemoan the state of our world, rather than get in arguments with those who disagree with us, we need to have a different take on what’s happening in our world today: We need to see the chaos and confusion around us as an opportunity to share the peace of Christ and to be the kind of peacemakers who reflect the Prince of Peace.
God has put us here for such a time as this – to bring peace – to be creative and aggressive forces for His goodness. You see, If I’m hearing what the Holy Spirit is saying to us today, it’s this! We have the opportunity to flip the script. So don’t let the media write the narrative of our day. God has put us here to write a different narrative – a new kind story that brings healing, that gives hope, that lives with a purpose of blessing everyone we meet with a creative and aggressive force for goodness.
Yes, at times it will seem dark. But we have hope. And yes, at times it will not be easy. But we have wisdom from above. And yes, there will be those who will seek to frustrate you, discourage you, and even try to make life miserable for you. But never forget, you already know the God of peace who has given you the peace of Christ. So let us refuse to let the chaos and confusion of our day steal your peace. But let the God of peace reign in our hearts and make us peacemakers like Him. For our world needs God’s peace, but it also needs peacemakers, who know the Prince of Peace.