Jesus loves you


How To Be A Peacemaker

by Richard Steel

Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God." (NKJV) "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 Message Bible

Can you remember taking part in a three-legged race at school? How about an egg and spoon race? What about a three-legged race with egg and spoon? That was certainly a way to get egg on your face! If ever you can imagine a time where you and your partner must cooperate instead of compete or fight, that must be it! Imagine if all our body parts started fighting against each other. We wouldn't function very well would we? Perhaps some of us have experienced something like that. It's no wonder then that the enemy tries to bring an unhealthy competitive spirit into the body of Christ, His church, to render it ineffective in doing God's important kingdom business here on this Earth, worshipping corperately to glorify God , and in doing so usher in His presence, reaching out to the lost, praying for the sick, and encouraging and uplifting each other so we can all fulfil our potential in Christ individually, and collectively as a Church. In the world of dolphins, the importance of cooperation is not lost on them. According to the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, "Dolphins are altruistic and work cooperatively in hunting for food. Males often assist one another in obtaining a mate, they will support an injured dolphin at the surface so it can breathe and entire pods will put themselves in jeopardy to come to the aid of a mother and her calf." If its instinctive for them, how much as Christian believers should it be instinctive for us to do similar!

The key to the beautitudes that Jesus enunciates in Matthew 5 is surely that He gives us the perfect example of how to be humble, righteous, merciful, pure in heart, and in the context of today's teaching, a peacemaker. Perhaps the most well known Hebrew word is shalom, which means peace. Jerusalem literally means City of Peace. Psalm 122 verse 6 tells us to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may they prosper who love you." So one way we can be a peacemaker is to pray, but Jesus calls for more from us than that, important though prayer is. What is the peace of Jerusalem? To know what peace is, we must go to the source, and that, of course, is God. In John 14 verse 27, Jesus says, " My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Note the end of that verse. Fear and anxiety is the other side of the coin. Under the Old Covenant in Leviticus 26 verse 6 God promises, " I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down , and none will make you afraid." How much more peace we can have knowing that Jesus has cleansed us from our sin, and we can come into God's presence as his children, in expectation that He will answer our prayers, and receive all His Kingdom benefits. In order to be a peacemaker, we need to not just know about peace, but have peace in our lives, and that peace comes from within, from Jesus living in us, the rivers of living water that we can draw upon when circumstances conspire to tempt us into discouragement, depression, and doubt, and the enemy tries to replace our faith with fear. Ephesians 2 verse 14 says, " He Himself is our peace."

Apart from adverse circumstances drawing us away from focusing on Jesus, how else can we lose our peace. Jesus gives a key in John 14 verse 27 when He alludes to the peace that He gives in stark contrast to the fake peace that the world gives. We can have peace by pouring ourselves a nice hot bath and pouring in a generous amount of bubble bath, but that is only temporary. Besides, I don't rate that nasty green stuff, hot water is enough of a luxury, just getting a bath is an achievement for me! And those bubble bath bottles that promise the elixir of youth through their minerals must be a con, unless you drink the bath water I don't see how else you can get the minerals, and drinking bath water is not recommended!

We can seek our peace in putting our security solely in people, a very good way to lose our peace! We can turn to alcohol our drugs to give us instant comfort, or the news and the soaps to give us the often selfish reassurance that other people's problems are worse than ours. But as born again believers, peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit of Galatians 5 verse 22. It's already in us if the Holy Spirit is living in us.

Having addressed the source of peace for our lives, how can we impart that to others, and be peacemakers, bringing brothers and sisters together? Hebrews 12:14 says, "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord."

Proverbs 12:20 says "There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace." It is very difficult to be a peacemaker if we are not pursuing peace with people in our own lives. We will face persecution as believers, and not just from outside the body of Christ either. Romans 5 verse 1 shows us that we have peace with God through being justified by Christ. In the same way, we need to forgive others quickly, or a root of biterness can grow and sour relations which can be like a poison that saturates others.

Being a peacemaker is about putting our faith in God's ability to work through situations, and letting Him use us to achieve that. It is about being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in dealing with people at odds with other people. How can we turn sour lemons into lemonade? By first looking at what God is doing in our own lives, or should be doing if we would just soften our hearts and let Him! Let's imagine Heaven for a moment. No ambitious agendas, no selfishness, no jealousy, no insecurity, just the wonderful enjoyment of God's love and blessings, as we worship and fellowship with God, and love each other. In order to mend divisions, we need to have a certain understanding of what the root causes of them are. They can be a range of factors, but ultimately are grounded in deception, because all sin comes from buying into the enemy's lies ( Jeremiah 17 verse 9). An unhealthy competitive spirit in the body of Christ comes from an individual or individuals who are often insecure in their relationship with God, and want to promote themselves for selfish reasons. Why? Maybe to get the approval of man so they can boost their self-esteem when they should be looking to God to do that. If we build our world around people's appreciation of our talents, then we are building our castle on the sand, and have not truly found our security in God. We are not putting our trust in God to fulfil what He has for us in His timing. To be a peacemaker, we have to understand that the only remedy is God's love working in a person's life. If we look to anything else for our security and fulfilment other than God's love, which has nothing to do with our performance, our talents, or our status, we will be prone to being competitive, stubborn, and difficult. People can be resentful when they see other people in ministry positions that they want, not able to forgive people because they don't have a revelation of God's forgiveness in their own lives, and alternating between a low self-image, or , in trying to compensate, being deceived into the pride of thinking of themselves as being something that they're not. Romans 12 verse 3 says, "For I say to everyone not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think." Galatians 6 verse 3 says that " If anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." We need to endorse people through loving them unconditionally first and foremost. We need to remember when dealing with people that are not cooperating, that we could be dealing with wounded individuals whose pain goes back deep into their childhood, and we need to be sensitive in handling any broken person. Galatians 6 verse 1 says, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any sin, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness."

Divisions can occur through a misunderstanding between people. We can act as mediators between people , encouraging them to soften their hearts, and appreciate the broader persective of the tensions between them. 1 Corinthians 14 verse 33 says, "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." The enemy likes to cause confusion. We need to identify the confusion. In the war with Iraq, specially trained dolphins were being used to locating mines in the Khor Abd Allah waterway, Iraq's artery to the Persian Gulf. According to United Press,

"The U.S. Navy has been using marine mammals for more than 30 years. Dolphins are uniquely suited for numerous missions including mine detection, mine location and detecting (enemy) swimmers," "Marine mammals help save lives using their natural ability." An unspecified number of bottlenose dolphins have been working in the waterways of Iraq where humanitarian aid must pass to get to the Iraqi people. U.S. Naval Special Clearance Team One, based in San Diego, trains and handles the Navy's marine mammal program, in which dolphins find mines and sea lions patrol waterways for enemy swimmers who might plant explosives on naval vessels. As intelligent as a smart dog and easily trained, dolphins have been used to detect mines or protect Navy divers since the Vietnam War. The dolphins detect the mines, which are made of metal. They are trained to mark the mines with floating buoys. The animals do nothing with the mines; they simply locate them, mark them with a buoy and U.S. Navy divers detonate the mines after the dolphins have been removed from the area." As we identify the source of the confusion, pray, and allow God to work through a situation, He can detonate the enemy from the divisions between people, and peace and harmony may be restored.

The issue of forgiveness is perhaps the most important area of conflict for a peacemaker to address. As we noted earlier, God's love and forgiveness must be flowing through our lives. Many disputes can be settled through forgiveness . Look at Northern Ireland, and the Middle East for clear examples. Does this mean we can accept peace at any price? Should we let someone get their way so they will stop bullying or oppressing others? Should we appease terrorists for the sake of peace? Absolutely not, and Jesus does not want us to compromise here.

David says in Psalm 120:6-7 – “My soul has dwelt too long With one who hates peace.7 I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war.” You cannot be a peacemaker and surrender to evil. The Bible tells us to "resist evil." But others will be open to the Holy Spirit touching their hearts and allowing them to forgive and release people. We also need to show people that forgiveness should often be active and not passive. It's easy to say that you've forgiven someone, but do you fellowship with that person? Are you praying a blessing over them , and considering how God would have you help them? We need to encourage people to forgive actively in this way.

It is important that we explore options with people sensitively, rather than rebuke harshly in most cases, and allow God to change their hearts to bring reconciliation through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We need to know people well enough to bring them to a place of cooperation and reconciliation.

"That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family."

The last part of Matthew 5 verse 9 shows us that our true identity is found in being a vessel for God's love and His peace. Is there a higher more important calling than that? Being called a child of God? God's vision is to build His Kingdom here on this Earth. He calls us to be peacemakers. It starts at home with our families, and then involves our friends, our workplace, and especially our church. We need to recognise that we have the peace of God in our lives through His spirit, but we can ask Him for a fresh touch of more of His Spirit, and let Him address areas of our lives that we need to yield over to Him, in order to have that "peace which surpasses all understanding," (Philippians 4 verse 7) so we are free to touch other people's lives with the peace of The author of peace, and The prince of peace.

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