If you have watched the news over the last few months or have been on social media, you might think the end of the world is at hand with growing hostility and tension between people.
As Jesus delivered His most profound sermon in Matthew 5, the Roman Empire had nearly conquered the known world. Israel was once again under the rule of captors, governed by people who don’t share their faith or morals.
Our response to this scenario is to pray for those in authority so that it may go well with us (1 Timothy 2:2) and to remember that this world is not our home.
It will never be our home.
What we want or expect from this world is something that only heaven can fulfill.
In the first century, Israel was influenced by four groups: the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and the Zealots. Jesus confronted each group at one time or another, as His teaching aimed to clarify and correct their theology and philosophy.
There was no more assertive group than the Zealots. They leaned towards the Pharisees in religious matters but took an overly aggressive political stance.
The Zealots believed they should be ruled by God alone and plotted to expel Rome from Israel. Every attempt ended in defeat, death, and led to greater oppression.
So as Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” this cut at the heart of the Zealots philosophy and theology.
They believed they were doing God’s will by revolting against Rome, but Jesus challenged their wayward theology.
Jewish life during Jesus’ time was shrouded by pax Romana, Roman Peace. Roman peace was created and sustained by the sword and heavy taxation. To His listeners, peace was a double-edged sword. It came at an oppressive price.
To make peace takes intentional action. Jesus’ call for peacemakers requires sacrifice. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not the pot stirrers, nor the peaceful or the peace “keeper.”
Peacemaking is not merely tolerance but creating an environment where we put relationship and peace above our opinions.
The pursuit of peace is not to change the opposition but to love them even if they have a different opinion.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
This verse tells us several truths about peace. God gives us His peace. The peace we have received is the peace we are to make with others.
His peace is different from that of the world. The world’s peace comes through war or the expulsion, oppression, and suppression of opposition. God’s peace comes through Jesus’ sacrifice and is experienced amid our differences, not in the absence of them.
As His people, we are equipped to make peace from within conflict. Peace does not mean uniformity. It means we don’t allow our differences to become contentious barriers.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18
Verses like this close all the loopholes in our justification for not liking others.
Romans 12 says so far as it depends on you. The word “you” in Greek means “YOU!” Not someone else. Not the other person. You!
This means you never stop working to make peace with ALL people. We must sacrifice personal opinions on the altar of peace. Non-eternal matters should never be the cause of division.
One major obstacle to peace or being a peacemaker is having our minds in the wrong place.
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
When our mind is set on the flesh, that is temporary things, they cannot produce life. But to the mind that is set on the Spirit is life and peace.
As we take on the mind of Christ, we can experience peace amid chaos, and we can be effective peacemakers.
Our words are a contributing factor to peace-making. Proverbs 18:21 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue.
For this reason, Jesus warned, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,”. Matthew 12:36
Careless words do not consider how they affect others. We don’t want to stand before God one day and explain why we said something out of character of our redeemed nature.
At that moment, our opinions are going to seem petty as we try to explain why we said what we said and didn’t pursue peace.
There is plenty to be divided over in this world, but remember, this world is not our home. Our methods are not of this world.
As we wait for His return, let’s be peacemakers, not peace-breakers.