Sunday, September 7, 2008

SOTM - Peacemakers


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”

Luke 2:7-14 “7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."” (NASB)

At the start of Genesis we see a chaotic emptiness. Out of that God creates order and peace. But that peace is shattered with sin. And so from the Garden of Eden on God was at work redeeming His people. He gave them the law, a glimpse of who He was, of His holiness. He gave us prophets so that we might understand Him better and keep the Law. In time, in the fullness of time, He gave us Love. Not the Law, but the Word. And this Word brought about the ability of peace again. No longer would we be hiding from God because we would never be good enough. Love reached down and offered us an eternal gift of peace between us and God, between us and each other. A new Law, the Law of Love was manifested to us.

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achieving world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries and to provide a platform for dialogue.
There are currently 192 member states, including nearly every recognized independent state in the world. From its headquarters on international territory in New York City, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout the year.

The Words:
Peacemakers – There are 2 things we need to consider with this word. The first is that peace is derived from God, from His reign. Regardless of what worldly government you have, from left wing to right, from socialist to dictator, you will always find corruption and the grasp for power. Mankind has never gone a generation or 2 without issues. Look at how the First nations have been treated in Canada, and the continuing conflict that occurs between English and French. Look at the USA, founded upon personal rights where corruption and lobbying are the ways to get what you want. Money buys votes and power. Then look overseas at dictators and the like. Man is incapable of bringing lasting peace to this world. God, the originator of peace, who brought order and peace out of chaos at creation, can shed a peace in your heart so big and so lasting that it is beyond comprehension. Peace comes from God and our relationship with Him.
The second thing is the modifier. Notice it says “peacemaker”, not peacekeeper. The difference here is one of initiative. The UN sends its soldiers out to keep the peace once a certain level has been established. We are ambassadors of God Himself, taking the peace of God and sharing it with those who have no peace. We are called to love and quietness, focusing on God as the Author and Finisher of our faith. God initiated peace with us through the incarnation. He brought in peace when all the Law could do was condemn and provide conflict. God initiated peace, and we need to follow His example and go out to make peace in the circles of life and influence that God has given us.

Called Sons (of God) – This phrase refers to our actions being a confirmation of our standing. It doesn’t say we will “become” the sons of God, it says we shall be “called” the sons of God. We already are the sons of God. We have a moment by moment relationship with the everlasting God, the Lord God of Creation, as we confess our sins to Him and yield our will to His. But in living out that truth, we become peacemakers and so prove that God is at work in our lives.

The Paradox:
The paradox is this: being a peacemaker is the culmination of the Beatitudes. Notice that this really is the last attitude, and that it is reflected in action. What follows in “Blessed are those who are Persecuted…” is not something we have any control over. We do not go out and be obnoxious with the Gospel of Peace just so someone will persecute us. No! This peacemaking is the summation of all that has been said before. And this beatitude is the one that people of power who are Christians, miss the most. How did the Crusades of a thousand years ago to deliver the Holy Land from Islam live out this verse? How does the turning away of needy and badly dressed people who don’t fit our church culture satisfy this verse?

Take It Home:
Emotional Peace: Fulfillment of the Great Commandment – Matthew 22:36-40 “36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' 38 "This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' 40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." Part of our job is to share love with everyone around us. We have a ministry of reconciliation. We have been reconciled to God, and know God is calling us to be used of Him so He can reconcile others to Himself. We live this out in our day to day actions. People all around us are hungry for love. We ourselves need it, and often feel on the edge of community. We have to take the initiative.
Spiritual Peace: Fulfillment of the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20 “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Part of our job is to share Jesus with everyone around us. Sharing Jesus means we are to share Him with those who don’t know Him, as well as encourage those who do to grow up in Him. Look around – we are all part of this church, this community. We all have a sense of responsibility with each other. We dedicate children and commit them to this group, recognizing that the whole community raises the child. It doesn’t stop with the children, though. We need to pursuer deeper relationships with one another, praying fro one another, taking about spiritual things. When was the last time someone asked you, “How are things going, spiritually?” When was the last time you asked someone else that same question. Be a peacemaker, take the initiative.
Personal Peace: It is all about spiritual and personal integrity – Do you have peace with God? Are you and God not just on speaking terms, but on “I surrender all” terms? Do you have peace with family and friends? Are you able to take the initiative and go to a brother or sister and say, “Listen! We need to talk.” For Dr Larry Dahl he will come and say, “I have a stone in my shoe.” He means that something is bothering him and he wants to deal with it. This week, today even, take the initiative and pursue peace. Be a peacemaker.

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