#7 (THE "BEATTITUDES" SERIES)
"PEACEMAKERS, MAKING PEACE"
TEXT: Matt. 5:9, 23-25; Rom. 14:17-19; James 3:13-18
INTRO: Because this world is full of discord and fighting mankind is constantly striving for peace. Why is the world like this? The human heart is sinful! The reason there are constant needs for "peace treaties" has to do with the constant need of salvation to change the human heart.
The world loves the thought of peace. The United Nations exist to bring this goal into reality. They have huge peacekeeping forces. But that is just the problem, peacekeepers are not what the world needs, it is PEACEMAKERS that are needed! We cannot keep a peace that hasn't yet been made.
Today we have "peace treaties" - "peace missions" - "peace prizes" - "peace ambassadors" - "green-peacers" - "peace conferences" - peace marches" - "peaceful co-existence pacts"... but the one thing we don't have is PEACE!
The world has always based peace on such things as:
1. Fear of mutual destruction (this is what "detente" with Russia was based on, a philosophical doctrine called "M.A.D." - 'Mutually Assured Destruction')
2. Superior forces which force peace deals
3. Peace treaties often are made to promote material prosperity to come to both sides
Such attempts at peace in this world are often based on MISTRUST, GREED, HATRED, PRAGMATISM, POWER, FEAR, ETC. That is why it is so tenuous.
PROP. SENT: The Word of God calls us to be "PEACEMAKERS," and for those who are they will find great happiness! "Peacemakers will be called the sons of God."
I. MAKERS OF PEACE - RIGHTEOUSNESS Rom. 14:17-19; James 3:13-18; Matt. 5:9
A. Hostilities Ended! Rom. 14:17-19; James 3:13-18
1. It is a fact of life that this world is full of hostility.
2. Hence the need for "makers of peace."
3. The role of the "peacemaker" is to bring to an end to the hostilities of two or more parties...
a. Between God and man
b. Between man and man
4. This kind of "peacemaking" can only happen where there is real "righteousness." Notice how Paul connects these two things together.
a. It takes spiritual dynamics to enable us to make peace with God.
b. And, it will take spiritual disciplines to enable us to make peace with man.
ILLUS: TWO MONKS LIVED TOGETHER IN HARMONY FOR YEARS THANKS TO THEIR SPIRITUAL TRAINING. AFTER A LONG TIME, HOWEVER, THEY WERE BORED WITH THEIR MONOTONOUS LIFE AND SO ONE OF THEM SUGGESTED THEY BREAK FREE BY BEING LIKE THE WORLD. THEY WOULD QUARREL LIKE THOSE IN THE WORLD. THE ONE MONK ASKED WHAT THEY COULD QUARREL ABOUT, SEEING THAT HE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THOSE IN THE WORLD QUARRELED OVER. THEY THOUGHT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN ONE MONK SAID, "SEE THAT STONE OVER THERE, WHY DON'T YOU TAKE THAT STONE AND PUT IT BETWEEN US AND THEN SAY, 'THIS STONE IS MINE.'" HIS FRIEND ACCOMMODATED HIS REQUEST. HE WENT OVER AND PICKED UP THE STONE AND PUT IT BETWEEN THEM AND PROCEEDED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE STONE WAS HIS AND ONLY HIS. WAITING FOR HIS BROTHER TO ATTACK HIS CLAIM AND START THE ARGUMENT HE NOTICED HIS FRIEND TAKE A DEEP BREATHE AND INSTEAD HE SAID, "WELL, IF THE STONE IS YOURS, YOU SHOULD KEEP IT." ...AND SO ENDED AN ATTEMPT TO HAVE AN ARGUMENT. TOO MUCH SPIRITUAL CONDITIONING HAD TAUGHT HIM TO GIVE IN RATHER THAN LOSE A FRIEND. RIGHTEOUSNESS PREVAILED! -- Source Unknown
5. Knowing that the kingdom of God is not "meat and drink" but "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" helps us avoid hostility over unimportant things.
6. Paul's point here is that we "make every effort to do what leads to peace" 14:19
a. This is the role of the peacemaker, the call on all believers.
b. This role cannot be accomplished however until we are ourselves at peace with God, the "righteousness" connection to peace.
7. This is James' point about the 2 kinds of wisdom:
a. Wisdom of this world, which is demonic in nature, is full of envy, greed, and self...
b. Wisdom that is from God however leads to peace and good fruit.
8. James makes the point that where there is sin, there is chaos and the absence of peace.
a. This aptly describes the world.
b. This is also why the goal of peace in this world is so elusive and tenuous.
c. How can this world ever know real peace until it has found peace with God first?
d. With only two kinds of wisdom operating in the world, there can be no hope of lasting peace until God's kingdom rules.
9. Notice too, James' connection here with peace and righteousness 3:18
10. The only lasting peace is everlasting peace. The fruit of righteousness, of having our hostility toward God ended. It is being at peace with God!
B. Heaven's Entrance Matt. 5:9
1. It is not the "peacekeepers" that are called the "Children of God," it is the "peacemakers" that are!
a. There is a big difference between these two: The United Nations mission is peacekeeping, one they often fail to accomplish!
b. The Christian's call is PeaceMAKING.
c. We are called upon by God to first make peace with God ourselves, and then help others to make peace with God.
d. It is the peacemaker that Jesus says "are the children of God."
2. We cannot get to Heaven without being at peace with God, ending our hostility toward God, thus making peace with God.
a. Only those who have done this will be called the "children of God."
b. Those who have found peace with God are "blessed" or happy.
3. The entrance into heaven is open to the "peacemaker."
ILLUS: A CERTAIN MOUNTAIN IN WEST AFRICA WAS HELD BY A TRIBE OF CANNIBALS AS THEIR STRONGHOLD. TROOPS HAD MADE SEVERAL ATTEMPTS TO CROSS IT WITHOUT SUCCESS, THEY FAILED EACH TIME. IT SEEMED AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK UNTIL ONE DAY A MISSIONARY WENT ALONE DOWN THAT PATH. THE SOLDIERS ASSUMED HE WENT TO CERTAIN DEATH. LATER HOWEVER, THIS MISSIONARY RAN INTO THE CAPTAIN OF THE TROOPS THAT HAD UNSUCCESSFULLY ATTEMPTED TO CROSS, AND HE SHARED HOW EASY IT WAS. HE WALKED RIGHT THROUGH THE PASS WITHOUT INCIDENT! THE CAPTAIN OF THE TROOPS ASKED, "YOU MEAN TO TELL ME YOU HAVE GOTTEN THROUGH UNTOUCHED?" THE MISSIONARY AFFIRMED THIS. THE CAPTAIN THEN ASKED, "HOW DID YOU DO IT?" THE MISSIONARY ANSWERED, "YOU WENT AS MEN OF WAR, AND I WENT AS A MAN OF PEACE." THE PEACEMAKER GOT THROUGH, AND THIS WILL BE TRUE IN ETERNITY TOO. -- Source Unknown
4. Only "peacemakers are called the children of God."
II. MINISTRY OF PEACE Matt. 5:23-25
A. Holy Expectation 5:23-25
1. God takes this peacemaker role so seriously that in this passage Jesus states that He will not accept worship from us if we have not ended hostilities with our brother.
a. God is not interested in our gifts when we are at odds with our brother.
b. To God, spirituality is eminently practical.
c. Obviously Jesus does not separate our worship from our relationships.
2. How many Christians around the nation today are in worship services but are at odds with a brother or sister in Christ somewhere? Their worship is not acceptable to God!
a. Jesus does not say "DON'T WORSHIP," but to go FIRST and make right the wrong. To be at peace with the brother, then come and worship.
b. Our vertical relationship with God can only be as good as our horizontal relationship with others.
3. Jesus leaves no room for excuses here. This is a fact of being a Christian.
ILLUS: IN THE MID 1980'S SINGER AMY GRANT'S LIFE WAS ANYTHING BUT THE CHARMED PUBLIC IMAGE SHE HAD GIVEN EVERYONE. HER MARRIAGE WAS IN SERIOUS TROUBLE. HER HUSBAND GARY WAS A COCAINE ADDICT, IT HAD BROUGHT TURMOIL INTO THEIR HOME AND THEY HAD REACHED THE POINT WHERE THEY TALKED ABOUT DIVORCE. AMY GRANT DESCRIBED IT THIS WAY, "FOR A FEW DAYS, I JUST STAYED IN BED AND MOURNED MY LIFE. THE ONLY HOPE I COULD SEEM TO SEE WAS JUST JUNKING IT ALL, MOVING TO EUROPE AND STARTING EVERYTHING ALL OVER AGAIN. IT WAS THEN MY SISTER, IN A LAST-DITCH VISIT, MARCHED UP RIGHT BESIDE MY BED AND SAID, 'FINE, GO TO EUROPE, LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND, START YOUR LIFE AGAIN, BUT BEFORE YOU GO, TELL MY LITTLE GIRL HOW YOU CAN SING THAT JESUS CAN HELP HER THROUGH ANYTHING IN LIFE, BUT THAT HE COULDN'T HELP YOU.'" THE WORDS HIT HOME WITH A BANG, AND AMY AND GARY BEGAN MARRIAGE AND PERSONAL COUNSELING. SLOWLY THEY REBUILT THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH GOD. -- Source Unknown
4. Jesus' instructions were quite simple: "leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."
a. End the hostilities. MAKE PEACE!
b. THEN COME BACK AND OFFER THE GIFTS. Reconciling to another is not done at the expense of worship, but as a part of worship.
5. We cannot have peace with God if we are at odds with one another.
6. How is it that so many Christians are missing being "blessed" or "happy" when it is promised in this beatitude?
a. Perhaps they have not yet found peace with their fellow believers.
b. Perhaps they make no efforts at making peace.
B. Hopeful Encouragement Matt. 5:9
1. Christ would not have pronounced such a "blessing" if it were not possible to achieve it.
2. Peace with God is necessary to become a true "peacemaker."
a. It begins with ceasing our hostility toward God. To receive Him as Lord of our lives.
b. Once we are at peace with God we can now be at peace with others as well. For our hearts receive now a new wisdom, not from the world, but from heaven.
3. There may be untold scores of people who really desire peace but don't know that it is available or how to get it. That is where our role of being a "peacemaker" comes in.
ILLUS: TWO YEARS AFTER THE CIVIL WAR HAD ENDED A MAN WENT INTO THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTH CAROLINA TO SPEND A FEW WEEKS OF HIS SUMMER VACATION. AS HE CLIMBED THE MOUNTAINS HE CAME TO A DENSE VALLEY AND TO HIS SURPRISE HE FOUND A SMALL CABIN WITH A FEW ACRES CLEARED FOR GROWING FOOD. HE APPROACHED THE DOOR BUT FOUND IT BOLTED SHUT. HE COULD HEAR SOMEONE INSIDE AND SO HE CONTINUED TO SEEK ENTRANCE, BUT WAS FRUSTRATED AT EVERY TURN. FINALLY, WITH GREAT PLEADING HE GOT THE TWO MEN INSIDE TO OPEN THE DOOR. HERE HIDDEN FROM ALL WERE TWO MEN WHO HAD DESERTED THE CONFEDERATE FORCES AND WERE BARELY STATING ALIVE FROM WHAT THEY COULD GROW AROUND THEM. THEY HAD NO IDEA THAT THE WAR WAS OVER AND SO THEY CONTINUED TO LIVE WITH HOSTILITY AND FEAR. THIS MAN FINALLY SHOWED THEM THAT INDEED ALL HOSTILITY HAD ENDED AND IT WAS SAFE TO GO HOME AND BE AT PEACE. A SIMILAR THING HAPPENED IN THE MID 1980'S WHEN A JAPANESE SOLDIER WAS FOUND ON A REMOTE ISLAND STILL PREPARED TO FIGHT THE WAR THAT JAPAN AND AMERICA HAD ENDED MANY YEARS EARLIER. HE JUST DIDN'T KNOW THE HOSTILITIES WERE OVER! NOW HE TOO COULD BE AT PEACE. HOW ABOUT YOU? DO YOU KNOW THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE AT PEACE WITH GOD AND MAN? CHRIST ENDED THE WAR AT CALVARY. BEING AT PEACE WITH HIM MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO BE AT PEACE WITH OTHERS.-- Source Unknown
4. "Peacemakers" are extremely happy people because they are no longer hostile toward God or others.
a. They can enjoy life because they are free from brokenness.
b. Are you a peacemaker? You can't be one until you have come to know the "PRINCE OF PEACE" ... Jesus Christ.
c. Have you found the joy of playing "peacemaker" for others? Leading them into this joyous experience?
5. "Blessed (or happy) are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God."
a. By God Himself.
b. And by others
CONCLUSION: The United Nation's mission is the job of "peacekeepers," a mission that will fail because of the sinful heart of man. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" a mission of peace that can succeed because the goal is to make peace first with God, thus making peace with others possible. External peace can only come when the heart is at peace with God, then it can be with man. Are you at peace? Are you a peacemaker? If you are, you are both "BLESSED & HAPPY"... and also you are called the "children of God."