March 5, 2012: The Thirteenth Day of Lent
March 5, 2012 § 1 Comment
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” ~ Matthew 5.9 ~
In a world that seems to be constantly accelerating, the concept of peace often gets left behind. We may think of peace as a kind of calm, or a break in something chaotic. We often think of peace as the opposite of war – no ongoing combat, or at least a truce. However, as we try to get to what Jesus’ audience would have thought of during his sermon that day, we find that the Hebrew idea of peace means so much more than these.
The Hebrew concept of peace would have been found with the word shalom. For Jesus’ listeners, this word would have meant a kind of wholeness or completeness on all levels of existence: individual, social, and national. Health, provision, and harmony. The Hebrew people experienced their greatest times of peace when they lived in proper relationship with God. When they neglected their relationship with God, they no longer experienced shalom.
As we have seen, this teaching lies in a progression; Scripture often associates peace with righteousness. Psalm 85.10 says, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” This connection between righteousness and peace can be found throughout the Bible. It comes as no surprise, then, that Jesus had mentioned righteousness just two verses earlier.
Jesus challenges his audience to be peacemakers. In a time when the land was under Roman occupation, the Hebrew people would have been desiring peace. But instead of saying, “Blessed are the peaceful,” Christ clearly says: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Blessed are those who bring shalom into the lives of others – and all the more so during un-peaceful times.
What is the blessing? The blessing can be found in this reality: the grace given to bring shalom into the lives of others comes only from a relationship with God. The ability to minister peace comes only from a close connection with the Prince of Peace himself. The true peace-bringers are members of God’s family, ambassadors of his kingdom – and visibly so! Christ says that peacemakers will be spotted for their relationship with God. This is the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven – blessed are those who live in it!
Christ’s life gives us an example of what a shalom-bringer looks like. If we think of Christ living (and dying and living again) to bring about peace, a complete and whole relationship between God and creation, it brings a new perspective to his ministry. Jesus tells his disciples during the Last Supper, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (John 14.27) Among all the lenses with which we view Christ and his ministry, we must include the perspective of peacemaker.
Christ calls us to be peacemakers as well, as part of this progress of spiritual growth we see in the Beatitudes. Like it or not, we will have opportunities to bring peace to our world. Sometimes we will fail; other times, we will hear God’s Spirit speaking to us and respond. It’s simply part of the journey that we are on. How do you make time to receive the peace of God? In what ways are you then able to share that with others?
Lord Christ, I am a person that desires peace in my life. Yet, your word emphasizes the importance of bringing it to others. Please help me to do this. Lord, I recognize that my relationship with you is the source that brings peace into my life and makes me able to share it with others. Do not let me neglect our relationship, Lord; remind me when I do. Amen.