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Peacemaking in the Kingdom of God

December 8, 2012 Leave a comment

I will be spending some time in the Sermon on the Mount, because it confuses me at times. The first connection I want to point out is how Jesus explains people are peacemakers. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says this:

Blessed are the peacemakers, / For they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9)

That’s a fairly straightforward proposition. The peacemakers are blessed because the peacemakers are going to be called “sons of God.” That is an insane blessing. Of course, that proposition does become more complicated when we understand that the Beatitudes are rightly interpreted as describing a sole type of person. Nevertheless, I want to key in on how Jesus elaborates that proposition.

Later in the Sermon, Jesus makes another statement,

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, “Love your enemies, [bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you,] and pray for those who [spitefully use you and] persecute you, that you may be sons of your father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:43-45. Textual note:  I have bracketed some parts of that quotation because, while they are present in the NKJV, they are not in some other translations, such as the HCSB; nevertheless, the sense of the passage is not affected in any way.)

Note the common phrase:  sons of your father in heaven, which is a straightforward allusion to God. According to Jesus, how is the peacemaking imperative fulfilled? Through loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. What better way is there to be a peacemaker but to turn the ill-sentiments and anger that is directed against you on its head by praying for and loving those who set themselves against you?

Paul will take this topic up as well, which helps provide greater clarity. He exhorts the Roman church to bless those who persecute them; to repay no one evil for evil; to live peaceably with all men insofar as they are able to; and to not avenge themselves but to leave that up to the Lord. He concludes the passage with an exhortation from the Proverbs:

Therefore, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; / If he is thirsty, give him a drink; / For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.
(Romans 12:20)

In pursuing peace with your enemies, wisdom–true, proper wisdom from God–demands that we love them; that we serve them; that we assist them. Christ has set the example for us, as Peter and Paul both point out.

Peter says, “But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps … ” (1 Peter 2:20, 21), which he describes as not reviling those who reviled him but on the contrary blessing those who cursed him.

And Paul explains our state in front of Christ before “God manifested his love toward us” (1 John 4:9),

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

(Romans 5:6-11; emphasis mine)

God in Christ manifested his love toward us in a self-sacrificial offering. May we do the same.

 

 

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