Jesus begins his most famous teaching, The Sermon on the Mount, with the Beatitudes, meaning blessing. Over the past few weeks we’ve be sharing stories of God’s blessing in our lives. This is the final one.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Sometimes, being a peace maker is a kind word, or an outstretched hand. Sometimes it is speaking up, sometimes it is choosing to remain silent. Sometimes being a peacemaker is a subversive, revolutionary act. Sometimes being a peace maker is a painful dismount or the smart of a slapped cheek.
It’s not fleeing from conflict or taking the path of least resistance. Choosing to actively pursue peace challenges us to dig deep and find the courage to surrender our need to be seen as right and to have the last word with our most strongly-held opinions.
Instead of projecting violence onto others, Jesus’ famous blessing for peace-makers, puts to death that part of me that wants enact judgement upon those who are not like me, or who reveal my sin, or who hold different political opinions to my own.
The Message paraphrases his words like this, “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” Matthew 5:9 (MSG)
Our country, our world, is polarised right now. Many of us define ourselves by who or what we stand against. As a result we’re moving further and further away from one another, and the greater the distance between us, the louder we have to shout to be heard.
Shalom, the Hebrew word often translated in English as “Peace,” has a rich meaning that includes “wholeness” and “restoration.” To make peace, or to be restored with those I distance myself from – I need to find wholeness in an identity defined not by my politics, opinions, achievements or pain, but by the family of God I’ve been loved into.
As I choose the revolutionary act of peace-making, I reflect the Father of this family who’s sacrificed so much to make peace with me.
Pope Francis said, “Peace builds bridges, whereas hatred is the builder of walls… This is the plan for life: make bridges, human bridges.”
What would it look like to build bridges of peace on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram? Who do I need to make peace with today?
Lord Jesus, teach me to choose peace over vindication, mercy over judgement, to build human bridges of co-operation and to see the people who aren’t like me, as you do. Amen