Blessed Are the Peace MAKERS

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Peace. Peaceful. Peacefulness.

Peace is quiet. It is calm. It is serene. It is slow, steady, and unperturbed. Peace is when things are just as they ought to be, set to rights, just so. Peace when the things that are happening are just what ought to be happening and no conflict occurs.

But in Matthew 5 Jesus says ?Blessed are the peace makers for they shall inherit the earth.? Read that again. Not ?blessed are the peaceful.? ?Blessed are the peace makers.? This is no blessing for the passive and the calm; it is a blessing for the intentional and the active.

No peace occurs without justice. A peace maker is a justice maker. He or she is a doer of deeds and a pursuer of a cause. That cause is the gospel which is the truest peace.

The peace makers will inherit the earth, not because they will wait passively and patiently for God?s victory, but because they will further the cause of God?s kingdom. They will be part of God?s victory, and he has promised blessing for doing so. There is no blessing in this verse for the sideline dwellers, the watchers, the waiters, and the water boys.

In fact, being a peacemaker is likely the least peaceful calling. It calls us to the forefront of the advancement of God?s cause. To make peace is to venture into the places where it isn?t, to stand between unrest and those who need rest, in some cases to fight what is wrong for the sake of what is right. The weak need defending, the poor need serving, the unjust need facing and rebuking, and the gospel needs declaring. And the Bible promises that it is not peace we will get for these actions, but pain and persecution.

And so, ?blessed are the peace makers, for they shall inherit the earth? doesn?t mean they will conquer, or even succeed. It looks forward, to an earth when peace will be ushered in and established by the perfect maker of peace. ?And he will give it as inheritance to those who sought this peace with commitment and passion in this life.

photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc

Blessed Are The Ambassadors Of Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. MT 5:9

Was John Lennon blessed? After all, he was a peacemaker wasn’t he? He and Yoko and friends sat in a circle singing, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” (Too bad you can’t hear me doing my imitation).

Actually the peace Jesus is talking about isn’t world peace, inner peace or even peace between people (though this peace leads to peace between people). He’s talking about the peace with God he bought on the cross.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:19-20

When we’re unreconciled with someone, there’s no peace in our relationship, only animosity, walls and barbed wire fences between us. Our sins shattered our relationship with God. Our massive offences barricaded his face from us. But Jesus reconciled us to God, making peace on the bloody tree.

So a peacemaker is one who has been reconciled to God, and now, as God’s ambassador appeals to others be reconciled and at peace with God:

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

An ambassador promotes peace between his own country and another. We’re sojourners in this dark world. Our true home is heaven. While here we act as heaven’s ambassadors who try to get as many people as we can to be reconciled to God.

The BLESSING of being a peacemaker: “they shall be called sons of God.”

In 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (above) we see that God is the great peacemaker. He was reconciling the world to himself through Christ. He gives the message and ministry of reconciliation. And it is God himself who appeals to the lost through us.

So when we seek to reconcile others to God he calls us “sons of God” because we’re doing what he does – we’re acting like him. Like Father, like son. And in the end God will unveil our sonship to the creation:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:19.

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matthew 13:43

What a “reveal” that will be! I can hear the angels crying, like the crowds in Extreme Home Makeover, “Father, MOVE THAT BUS!” And God will pull back the curtain and his sons and daughters will blaze with the glory of Christ, to the amazement of the creation. (You didn’t know there would be a huge bus in heaven did you?)

Why not take a few minutes to ask our Heavenly Father to use you as a peacemaker to help others be reconciled to God?

Asexuality and the Feeling Of Being Fractured

photo by jinterwas

Yesterday I read an interesting and somewhat odd article about the asexuality movement. According to the article, a person who is asexual is “defined by an absence of sexual attraction.” David Jay is the spokesman for the asexuality movement and has founded an online community called the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, which exists to raise awareness and provide support for those who identify as being asexual.

My first thought when I read the article was, is it really necessary to form a community that identifies itself as being asexual? If you don’t want to have sex, then don’t have sex. There is nothing necessarily wrong or sinful about that choice. Not wanting to have sex may seem odd, but it’s not fundamentally wrong.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the asexuality movement reveals something profound about all of us: we feel fractured.

Before Adam and Eve sinned they lived in perfect harmony with God and with one another. They felt unified with each other and they experienced the immediate presence of God. They knew what it meant to belong and to feel accepted. But when they sinned against God their closeness, unity, and intimacy were fractured. Their sin created a vast, uncrossable chasm between them and the Lord, and it drove a thick wedge between Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve no longer experienced the nearness of God, and their intimacy with each other was shattered.

All of us feel the fracture created by Adam and Eve. All of us have a deep sense of exclusion and needing to belong to something or someone. We feel the break in our relationships with others and in our relationship to God. We know that the fracture exists but we don’t know how to fix it. That’s why we constantly form tribes and alliances and support groups. We want to belong to something and feel accepted by someone. Speaking of his sexuality, David Jay said, “For a couple of years I just assumed that I was broken.”

David Jay knows what it means to feel excluded and broken and cut off. By forming AVEN he is trying to mend the fracture, to repair the break, to feel accepted and loved. The only problem is that a support group can never truly heal the division. It’s like putting a bandaid on a broken bone. There is only one person who can cross the great divide between us and God and only one person who can mend the deep the division in our relationships with other.

By his death on Good Friday and his resurrection three days later, Jesus has crossed the divide for us and is bringing us together as his people. Ephesians 2:12-14 highlights this beautifully:

…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…

Jesus is the great healer. In him, the fracture is being mended. Our brokenness is being healed. Our exclusion is being repaired. I once was far off from God but now I have been brought near. I once was excluded from the people of God but now the dividing wall of hostility has been torn down. I am now a son of God, and heir with Christ, and a member of God’s family.

Easter is a reminder that God has begun to heal the fracture that ripped the world apart. The break is being mended, the division being repaired! Someday, when Jesus returns, we will again be in the immediate presence of God. There will be no sense of exclusion, no sense of alienation. Everything will be made right again. I’m so looking forward to that day.

I hope that this Easter David Jay experiences the deeper healing available in Christ.

Refreshing Work

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Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.? MT 11.28-30

“Before you accept Jesus’ offer to find rest, read the invitation closely. Jesus does not invite worn-out people to take a nap. Nor does he suggest that if we will chant a one-time prayer, refreshment will be granted automatically. No; Jesus says to assume his yoke and learn from him. Jesus invites those who need rest to come work with him.” — Chris Brauns

A yoke suggests work.? Jesus yokes us to himself and invites us to join him in his work.? As we walk and work with him, he refreshes and reinvigorates us.

Question: How does Jesus refresh you in his work?

What If I Don’t Feel Peace?

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Sometimes we make our faith in Jesus way too mystical.

For example, how often have you said or heard the phrase, “I’ve got a peace about [insert decision/circumstance].”? If I haven’t said those exact words, I’ve at least thought them in one form or another. And we speak about this peace like it has some form of divine authority.

I know I’m making the right decision, because I have peace.

But what exactly do we mean when we say, “I’ve got a peace about…”? I think we mean that we feel peace about a particular decision or circumstance, which makes us confident that God has our back. We feel comfortable accepting a particular job, or entering a relationship, or purchasing a house because we have peace.

But is a sense of peace a sign that we’ve made the right decision? The answer is…maybe.

Isaiah 26:3 says, ?You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Notice where the peace comes from. It comes from fixing our minds on God and placing our trust in God.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, ?…do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.?

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding comes from letting our requests be made known to God. The peace isn’t a divine guarantee that we’ve done the right thing. Rather, it’s the result of trusting in the God who cares for us.

Sometimes we’ll make the right, God-honoring decision and not feel a drop of peace. The reason we don’t feel peace is not because we’re out of the will of God, but because we aren’t fixing our minds on God. If we don’t feel peace we shouldn’t automatically assume that we’re making a wrong decision. We should first see if we’re trusting in God and fixing our fearful minds on Him.

And on the flip side, sometimes we’ll make a decision that isn’t God-honoring and yet still feel peace. If I make a significant decision without getting any counsel from others, it’s quite possible that I could feel peace when I shouldn’t be.

What do you think? What role should “peace” play in our decision making?

For more on biblical decision making, read:

+photo by fazen

Hope For Anxious Hearts

My first 2 years as a Christian I was a ball of anxiety.

Every morning I awoke with a knot in my stomach and an invisible hand on my throat.? All day long I’d suck in shallow quivering breaths and exhale, trying to relax.? I was stuck in a job from Gehenna, clueless as to my future, my finances were a train wreck, and I was about as organized as an anthill after being blown up by an M-80.

I’d forget to do important things, like pay my taxes,? maintain my car.? One bitter January night I cracked the engine block on my first car, a blue Plymouth Fury.? For some reason I had thought I could substitute water for antifreeze.? So when I cranked up Ol’ Blue that night, I couldn’t understand why smoke began billowing out from under the hood.

I pleaded with Jesus regularly for peace, but was still anxious.? Then one day he gave me a picture of a tangled, knotted ball of yarn and spoke to my heart, “Mark, your life is like that ball of yarn.? You’ve messed it up, but I will sort it out, strand by strand, day by day, and eventually you will have my peace.”

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (IS 26.3).

God would sort it out. My job was to keep my mind stayed on him – on his character and promises in Scripture.? As I did this, mustering whatever faith I could, he’d provide peace.

Our circumstances scream things like, “You have no resources, no hope of a job! You’ll never marry.? Your teenager will never accept the Lord.? You’re doomed!”? If we keep our minds stayed on our circumstances, we’ll never find peace.

When life’s breakers threaten to swamp us, we must grab our minds by the scruff of the neck, make them look up and insist, “Behold your God: sovereign, faithful and loving!? Somehow he will provide for me, because he’s promised to meet all my needs according to his riches in Christ!”

When I began to do this, I started tasting God’s peace little by little, drop by drop, sip by sip.? Eventually the anxiety evaporated.

As my little boat continues to sail through the squalls of life, I still must anchor my mind on Christ, trusting him for my children, my church, and myself.? As I do he calms my heart.? Even when my cars blow up.? I really should start reading the manuals…

photo by today is a good day

Rivet Your Eyes on Christ

Recently a banker told me that our current financial crisis is the worst he?s seen in his lifetime.

A man in our church recently watched his investments plummet $20,000.? Another mentioned that retirement had been on his radar screen, but now it seems to have sunk into the horizon.

When billionaire Warren Buffet feels his blood pressure rising or his nerves on edge, he calms himself by looking at snapshots of his family or playing a game of bridge with his friends. (The Intelligent Investor, Oct 18, 2008)

Husband: Honey, we?ve lost everything.? My retirement?s gone, and our investments are down the toilet.

Wife: Here, dear, why don?t you look at some photos of your grandchildren?

Husband: Ahh, my grandchildren….Arghhhh! They?re doomed!? I got nothin’ for them!? They?ll be forced to work in sweat shops and stand in bread lines!

Whether it be our finances, a wayward teen, health challenges, or anything else that tempts us to fear, God’s Word has a much better solution than playing bridge or looking at photos:

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (IS 26.3-4)

To keep the mind stayed on God is to anchor our thoughts on God’s character and promises, to continually look to him, pray to him, and hope in him.? One way to set our minds on God is to worship him for his attributes.? For example, ?Lord, I praise you, that you are all powerful – you can meet my needs.? You are unchanging in your faithfulness, mercy and steadfast love.? And even in this trial, you have compassion on me as a father on his children.?

We must keep our eyes on Christ, not our circumstances:

And Peter answered him, ?Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.? He said, ?Come.? So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ?Lord, save me.? (MT 14.28-30)

As long as Peter kept his eyes fastened on Jesus, he was able to walk on water.? But when he shifted his eyes from Jesus to the wind, he began to sink.

If we’re always checking the market, the polls, or the paper more than our bibles, we’ll sink.? You’ll never hear a newscaster say, ?The Dow Jones dipped 700 points today, but don?t worry, God’s in control!? Or, ?We?re on the verge of a world-wide depression, but don?t fear, God feeds the sparrows; surely he?ll care for us.?

So rivet your eyes on Christ and He will guard your heart with his peace that surpasses understanding.

photo by paulperton