BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
by Donald Green
"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9
In struggling with this teaching, I have come to some convictions.PEACEMAKERS ARE NOT PACIFISTS.
Push a pacifist for an example of his lifestyle and you may hear any number of bases: "see the world as one" or "we are brothers" or "a federated world is the answer" or "love is the key" or "the multinational corporations are the cause." None of these is wrong in and of itself. They may be possible keys, The point is that they are incomplete, inadequate by themselves. Pacifism is often humanistic, politically, culturally, or socially determined. Human pacifists often come from an intellectual,high-class, educated minority. Pushed far enough a pacifist may be able to share his own convictions -- a sandy foundation at best. If I pursue peace because of a political philosophy, then the best I can do is try to persuade and convince you with logic.
A peacemaker is a biblical Christian -- be he Quaker, Mennonite, Brethren, or whatever, it makes no difference. The lives of biblical peacemakers are rooted and grounded in the universal expression of God's truth. A peacemaker shares the Spirit and mission of Christ, for as Paul said: "For he himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, broke down the barrier of the dividing wall...that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace." (Ephesians 2:14, NASB.) Jesus hung on a cross that we might find peace with God through His blood. Jesus was a peacemaker, and to you and to me He issues the same call.
We are not of the kingdom of this world; we are soldiers for Christ and our command is to be peacemakers. George Fox expressed this succinctly in his declaration to Charles II in 1661: "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world." The call to peacemaking is the call to a biblical life-style.PEACEMAKERS ARE ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE.
Somewhere, somehow, someone received the idea that peacemakers live a "will not" life. "I will not fight," "I will not make war," "I will not kill." "I will not" may be the orientation of the pacifist but not of the biblical peacemaker. Jesus did not command His followers to be "I will not" disciples. Peacemakers are children of God. Their lives are not filled with running from violence, but of confronting it, bringing it under the judgment of God. (See Romans 12:17-21)
The Bible says: "As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." For Quaker merchants in Boston and Philadelphia (1600-1700) this meant sending ships to sea without cannon. It meant rusting the purpose and sovereignty of God -- confronting violence in the name of peace. Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren were driven from their homes and lost everything they owned to both Americans and British during the Revolutionary War. The world was at war and it threw its wrath and violence indiscriminately against those who attempted to be peacemakers. In the Princeton meetinghouse today, blood stains remain on benches where British and American soldiers lay side by side as Friends, biblical peacemakers, ministered to thy dying on both sides.
A peacemaker confronts violence and brings it under God's judgment. Be it emotional and physical violence in marriage, or parent and child, violence between employer and employee, or the violence of crime and corruption, a peacemaker always sees an alternative to strife. He always pursues reconciliation, always understand the potential of God's mercy and grace. Peacemakers are ambassadors for Christ, as though god were entreating through them on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. Peacemaking begins with your mate, you in-laws, in your neighborhood. It begins at work, or it begins in school.
A peacemaker of the New Testament is patient, kind, not jealous -- he or she does not seek his own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered -- bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4,5, NASB).
A PEACEMAKER RESPECTS GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY.
Whereas a pacifism not based on the Bible, but based upon a "will not" political philosophy, may see government as the enemy, not so a biblical peacemaker. "Rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil." (Romans 13:3 NASB) The three Christian fellowships given privilege of carrying the peace mission in the world historically have always respected the servant of government. They take seriously the Bible's admonition that "entreaties and prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kinds and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life." (1 Timothy 2:1,2)PEACEMAKING IS THE WAY OF SUFFERING.
The Bible command that we "...pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14 NASB) Peacemakers are conquerors for and through Christ. They were the men, women, and teenagers who gave up their lives by the hundreds on Roman crosses and in Roman arenas. These peacemakers confronted violence and brought the Roman empire to its knees.
Mennonite, Brethren, and Quaker peacemakers for 400 years have been in the middle of battlefields caring for the wounded and dying of both sides. They have been in the midst of racial hatred and strife lifting a standard for God. They have chosen the way of suffering, the way of the cross.
Peacemakers in the home, the community, or the world of nation-states may end up being hated and rejected by both sides of a controversy. But then, biblical peacemaking is the way of suffering.PEACEMAKERS TRUST IN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
Friends in Ireland gathered for the Ulster Quarterly Meeting of 1798 in the middle of terrible bloodshed and carnage. Rebel and English forces alike committed horrible atrocities in the struggle.
David Sands of New York felt led by God to visit the Quakers of Ulster in his traveling ministry. He records some of his experiences as Friends went to Wexford for their meeting. The road to the meeting house was strewn with bodies, but trusting in the sovereignty and protection of God, Quaker men, women, and children made their way to worship safely. They marched to the drumbeat of another kingdom; they were in this world, but not of it.
Now, my friends, I come to the key issue of this presentation.
Have you discovered your place among the soldiers for Christ? Have you joined the Lamb's war? Are you living in the Spirit that takes away all occasion for war? Have you herd the call from the Captain of our salvation? Are you a peacemaker? Have you explored the New Call to peacemaking?Print copies of this and other literature may be obtained from Barclay Press, 110 S. Elliott Rd. Newberg, Oregon 97132, 1-800-962-4014
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