blessed are the peacemakers
“blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” matthew 5:9
i know i’ve been all over the place the last few weeks & i like to do that here, not feeling pressure to color in the lines but just go with what’s right in front of me. at the same time, i really do want to finish this beatitudes series! there are only 2 more to go.
in this beatitude, the word for peacemaker, is eirēnopoios. what’s interesting is this is the only time it’s used in the bible. the word peace, in the greek, is shalom, which means: completeness, wholeness, safety, soundness, health, friendship in human relationships and with God.
the other beautiful part of shalom is that it is not only about the absence of evil, strive, bad things. it is also the presence of good and positive things. “maker” is an active word. i read it as: “blessed are those who make/participate in/create wholeness, healing, friendship, reconciliation”.
for many of us, the idea of being a “peace-maker” has some big misconceptions. we may have been taught that keeping the peace means not rocking the boat, not messing with the status quo, going with the flow, doing whatever we can do not to be in conflict, stuffing our own feelings for the sake of others, and a whole host of other not-so-healthy relationship skills. so, it’s easy when we read this beatitude at face value to think that at yet another turn it’s our responsibility as Christians to just be quiet and tow the line (this is especially strong for Christian women although i know all kinds of men who struggle with being afraid of conflict, too).
i don’t think that kind of “keeping the peace” is what Jesus is getting at here. he was the ultimate status-quo rocker, oppressive-system-toppler. at the same time, he was referred to as the “prince of peace” and in this beatitude it says that when we are makers of shalom, we will be called “children of God.” to me, this is a lovely reflection, that God’s children will be like him, and he is a peace-maker.
real peace-making does not look like buttoning up our lips and just going along with the powers that be. one look at the gospels & it’s quite clear that is what he was calling us all toward something much deeper than that. i believe he was and continues to call us to restoration. to not just the absence of evil but to the presence of good. that despite the obstacles against it (of which there are many), the ways of the kingdom of heaven are available on earth, now, too.
the earth is not crying out for more brokenness. it’s crying out for healing, restoration, connection, wholeness, and healing.
the question is whether or not we’re willing to participate in its creation. making peace won’t just be about eradicating strife, evil, and conflict but requires us to participate in creating good, bringing love, joy, justice, and mercy to create healing and wholeness in our relationship not only with others but with ourselves & God, too.
to me, peace-making means not only standing against what’s wrong but also actively embodying what’s right. when it comes to issues of equality and injustice, words are only a start. actions are what change things. i think of gandhi & the amazing work that he did on behalf of the poor in India. one of gandhi’s primary inspirations as a young man was Jesus’ sermon on the mount! (thisis interesting). through nonviolent action, things changed. if he just talked about it–or used force–change would have never come. he says, “violent means will bring violent freedom.”
when it comes to living out kingdom ways now, to me it means i will need to respect the fine line between passivity and violence. i think it’s finer than we sometimes think. and because i’m human, sometimes i’ll tip toward one side or the other & it will feel really cruddy. i’ll be too quiet, i’ll be too pissed off. but the part i keep holding on to is that the only way to participate in creating the kingdom now is to actually participate–stumbling, bumbling, trying, with a heart dedicated to practice and actions instead of words.
i think peace-making is brave. it’s staying in instead of running away. it’s being vulnerable instead of protected. it’s letting the image of God that’s in us be reflected instead of hidden. it’s practicing love instead of talking about love. it’s risking our pride, egos, money, time to actually create good instead of only talk about creating good. it’s refusing to participate in systems that oppress others. it’s creating systems that don’t.
the world may not seem to notice. the systems may not topple tomorrow. people may get mad at our actions & our courage. like Jesus, we are sure to be misunderstood, mocked, and called trouble-makers, heretics, liberals, and a whole-host-of-otherthings-that-are-a-lot-worse-than-that.
but in the end, that’s okay. we’re blessed–and acting like God’s children–when we’re making real peace. with ourselves, with others, with God, with the world. when we’re active, living agents of shalom.
God, may we be brave makers of peace, actively participating in creating wholeness and restoration in any way we can.
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the other posts in this series that are scattered out the past few months:
- blessed are the spiritually poor
- blessed are those who mourn
- blessed are the meek
- blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
- blessed are the merciful
- blessed are the pure in heart