March 30, 2016
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Peace. Now there’s a word I think we think we understand but am sure we do not. It conjures up notions of Eagles songs and the sixties and tie dyed t-shirts with that tired circle and two forked lines of a symbol. “Give peace a chance,” sang John Lenon, but it has been little more than a song. Peace is something so many long for, sing for and even protest for yet so few ever work for. The famous prayer attributed to St. Francis put it so well. “Make me an instrument of your peace.”
The key words in that prayer for me: “your peace.” Peace cannot be confused with the idealistic pining for the end of war. Peace cannot be confused with some idyllic state of harmony and good feelings toward one another. Peace, in its deepest essence and at its very core is the presence of God. When Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives,” (John 14:27) he was not talking about some ethereal state of consciousness. He was talking about his presence. Look at the verse prior: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (v.26)
Now, if peace is the presence of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit— what does it mean to be a peacemaker? For starters, I think it means we can’t be a peacemaker alone. Peace is not an individual state, it is inherently relational. Given that, here’s the first question. What about the state of my relationships? If I live in the midst of a warring marriage then I carry war into all of my relationships. It doesn’t mean I have no relationship with God. It just means I am probably not carrying the Peace of God. Am I harboring unforgiveness toward another person? If so, my presence carries tension and anxiety.
Upon reflection, I think my primary way of thinking about 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God, was of me serving as some kind of mediator or conflict resolution referee between two people at odds. Today it hits me much closer to home. I’m afraid if peacemaking does not begin in my own relationships it will hardly be something I can hope to make beyond them.
In the end, it seems ridiculous to say, “Give peace a chance,” as though peace were some kind of agreement we could all sign in order to get along. No, the cry of the day sounds more like, “Come Holy Spirit!”
1. Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Can you think of one relationship in your life today where you need to “seek peace and pursue it?”
2. Peace may not always mean the conflict gets resolved. It could mean seeing past the conflict into the humanity of the other person and making peace despite the unresolved conflict. Does that seem possible to you? If not, good. Welcome the Holy Spirit into this impossibility in a new way.
3. If Peace is the presence of God, what then does it mean to “seek peace and pursue it?” What might it mean to pass the presence of God to another? Reflect and journal a bit on that today.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.