Monday, July 3, 2017

BEATITUDES -- Peace Doer

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

When we were growing up, we were known by our last names. That’s the Smith kids. We had certain characteristics that identified us. The Shaver kids had different characteristics. The Kelly’s even different. Our behavior was predictable. Our interests were predefined. Some ruckus would happen, Oh that’s the Thomas bunch. We were known by our families.

It’s not intentional, but children resemble the behavior of their parents. Watch them role-playing and you’ll see miniature versions of their parents. Little girls playing with their dolls suddenly become the mommy. They get bossy and stern. They take over. They tell their dolls what to do. Why? They’re copying the behavior they’ve seen in their moms.

Little boys driving their cars yell at other drivers, honk their imaginary horns, cut others off, speed around corners. Why? They’re copying the behavior they’ve seen in their dads.

Kids reproduce what they see. They are being dad-like or mom-like. Those characteristics then identify them.

If we were to be God-like, what would that look like? Obviously, we can’t duplicate God’s unique traits. We can’t suddenly become all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present. But if we were to act as God would act, how would we act?

We would match what we believe about Him with our actions:
·         If we believe He is loving, we would be loving.
·         If we believe He is merciful, we would be merciful.
·         If we believe He is caring, we would be caring.
·         If we believe He is holy, we would be holy in our behavior.

When believers were first called Christians, it was in derision. It was a slam against them for being like Jesus. One day someone realized that was exactly what they were supposed to be—like Jesus, and the name became their own.

Their actions reminded others of Jesus. Their goal became to live in a way that reflects how Jesus lived and what He taught. His actions explained the Father. Their actions explained Him.
In our Beatitude, Jesus is telling us what demonstrates we are children of God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.   

But if we’re not careful, we’ll let an unfortunate translation take us a wrong direction.

Though your Bible reads this way, Jesus didn’t say: Blessed are the peacemakers… What He said was: Blessed are the peace-doers, for they will be called sons of God.

The word translated make is actually to do. Jesus didn’t tell us to make peace but to do peace. If we say let’s do lunch, we’re going to go someplace and enjoy what someone else has made. To do peace is to enjoy what Jesus provides. To live in such a way that His peace characterizes our lives.

We need to know what it means to do peace but we also need to redefine what peace means.

The definition we’re accustomed to doesn’t fit how it’s used in the Bible. To us, peace is the absence of conflict, the removal of stress and irritation, the freedom from disturbance, end to war and violence. It makes us think of words like quiet and tranquility, calm and restfulness. It is the relaxation we feel when the turmoil ends.

But Jesus said: These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (Jn 16:33)

Do you find that a bit unsettling? What kind of gift is peace if it doesn’t get rid of tribulation? How can you have peace and tribulation at the same time?

The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. It is never used to describe something we don’t have: like the absence of trouble. Shalom doesn’t take things out of our lives but adds to our lives. It is a word of blessing that means having everything which makes for a person’s highest good. A person who greets you with Shalom is wishing for you the best of all good things. May what’s best be added to your life.

So how do tribulations fit in? Tribulations simply are opportunities to know that God has our highest good in mind. They are ways to see God’s best for us. That changes our perspective.

The tunnel suddenly has an end. The forest has an opening. The night will soon be over. Knowing I will see God’s good provides a way for us to travel through our tribulation.
·         If He guarantees direction, I don’t have to wander aimlessly.
·         If He promises hope, I don’t have be afraid.
·         If He assures forgiveness, I don’t have to live buried beneath my guilt.
·         If He gives peace, I don’t have to tremble because of my problems.

An emotional moment for Jesus was when He couldn’t give His peace to those who needed it most.

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:42-44)

They were facing the destruction of their Temple and losing their homeland. Jesus said there was a tribulation coming that they could not escape. He wept for them because He couldn’t give them the peace needed to get through it. They had rejected Him, it wasn’t available. That which would have been for their highest good, they’d never get to experience. They’d have to go through their tribulation alone.

The peace they needed wouldn’t have taken them out of tribulation or prevented them from going into tribulation. It would have gotten them through tribulation. Shalom doesn’t take taking tribulation out of the equation, it adds what is necessary to get through tribulation.

Even the Greek word equivalent for Shalom didn’t focus on removing what causes disruption to our lives but on that which brings divisions together. Adding, not taking away.

The Greek word means to join together, to be one again. It speaks of the wholeness that happens when the parts that have come apart are reconnected.


See how that happens in our tribulations. Suddenly our problems get so large they block our view of God. We are separated from our comfort, hope, rest. We are stressed, we are disrupted, we are undone and unraveled. Why? Because something has wedged itself between our confidence in Jesus’ peace and our problems.

Tribulation tries to separate us from that peace:
·         Fear gets in the way of faith.
·         Confusion gets in the way of following.
·         Desperation gets in the way of hope.
·         Panic gets in the way of trust.
·         Uncertainty gets in the way of confidence.
·         Worry gets in the way of anticipation.

Paul said peace is to become the standard, the normal of our lives: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, (Col 3:15)

When our tribulation is trying to convince us nothing is good in what’s going on, peace points out God is working things for good.

Paul said: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

Peace, then, isn’t the result of removing conflict, but the ability within conflict to see God at work accomplishing what concerns us.

That’s what God was doing in our Salvation: When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Col 2:13-14)

Sin was the wall separating us from Him. But God removed the wall so, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Rom 5:1)

What is peace? Having everything we need added so God can work all things toward our highest good.

Paul prayed: Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! (2 Thess 3:16)

Peace in every circumstance. That covers quite a bit of circumstances. Good, bad, happy, sad, fearful, disastrous, worrisome, violent, relaxing, quiet.

So, when Jesus said: in Me you may have peace but in the world you have tribulation, He didn’t have to remove tribulation for us to have His peace. He could accomplish what is best in our lives in spite of tribulation.

How do I live in peace? By connecting God with whatever is separating me from Him. The tribulations are not the problem. The problem is I have allowed them to get in the way of my confidence to trust Him.

Recently, Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, was followed in the mall, then found the same three men parked in a van beside her car. Obviously afraid, she courageously got into her car and left quickly. She wrote: “even though we serve a GOOD God...scary things can happen at any time, because until the day Jesus comes back evil will still be in the world."  But despite the scary ordeal, she said she was thankful to be able to have joy knowing I'm protected in the shadow of [God's] wing."

God in this moment, I do peace. I acknowledge you are here in the midst of my tribulation. I trust you because I know you are doing what is in my best interest.

David wrote: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces." For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, "May peace be within you." For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good. (Ps 122:6-9)

Blessed are the peace-doers for they will be called sons of God. They will be known by who their God is. They will desire what God desires. They will be God-like in their actions and attitudes. They will measure what they do by the good it will accomplish. They will trust God to balance them between rest and tribulation. Their lives will reflect their confidence in the goodness of God.

The Peace-doers promise: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)

What is your all things today that needs to work together for good? Is it causing division between your ability to trust God and your tribulation? By claiming that promise, you will be a peace doer.

1.       Peace is the process by which God works out His best in our lives.
2.      We don’t have peace, we do peace.
3.      We are to live confidently, letting peace rule in our hearts.
4.      His peace will work whether we are at rest or in tribulation.

5.      If we are stressed, we are not doing peace—not trusting God.

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