Before His death, Jesus told His apostles, “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; ESV)”
The role of “peace,” within the life of the Christian is a topic that probably deserves more examination than it often gets. For one thing, the Scriptures present it as a central part of what it means to be a Christian, and as a natural result of living in Christ. Consider the inclusion of the Peacemaker within the Beatitudes by Jesus: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).”
In the Beatitudes, the peacemaker stands out somewhat because it is the only promise that is not an immediate and obvious reference to our heavenly reward. The other promises, “receive mercy,” “be comforted,” “inherit the earth,” “theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” and so forth, are all promises which, while having some application in this life, shall be ultimately fulfilled when God’s people enter into their final reward. For this reason, and because of the manner in which Jesus presents the blessings, book-ending them all with the same promise of the Kingdom, it is understood that the Beatitudes are meant to be taken as a whole, a description of those qualities necessary in the one who wishes to partake in the resurrection and obtain eternal life.
But the promise to the Peacemaker, as stated, stands out and makes us realize that the ones who are going to enter into heaven are the sons of God and that the sons of God are known by their relation to Peace.
Concerning the first point, a little reflection and examination of the Scriptures makes us see that it is obvious that those in heaven are children of God. The apostle John had quite a bit to say about this in the third chapter of his first epistle. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 John 3:1; ESV).” John goes on to distinguish the children of God from the children of the devil, observing that the children of God do what is righteous, and the children of the devil do not (cf. 1 John 3:8-10).
This is the same reasoning Jesus used when He accused the Jews of being neither children of Abraham nor children of God, saying rather that they were of their father the devil because they wanted to do the works of the devil (cf. John 8:42, 44). The children of God are known by their doing the things of God.
Which brings us back to the Peacemakers. They shall be called sons of God because they are imitating God. And they are imitating God by seeking to bring Peace into the world around them.
God Himself hates division. When God identifies those things which are an abomination to Him (Proverbs 6:16-19), the last mentioned is “one who sows discord among brethren.” Included among the sinful and wicked works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) are “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, and divisions.”
The Scriptures also teach, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18; ESV)
No wonder then that the apostle Paul encouraged the Roman church, “As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).” To do otherwise is simply wicked and ungodly. If we wish a righteous harvest, we can only do sow by cultivating peace in our lives and the lives around us.
Considering the importance God places on the subject of Peace, and the necessity of His children being Peacemakers, it is certainly an idea worth meditating upon.
If you would like to learn more about the promised Peace of Christ, and how to have that peace in your life, the church of Christ invites you to worship and study with us, at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise if you have any questions or comments, we invite you to share them with us at chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.