Reflection on Matthew 5:9
“Peacemaker”… a maker of peace. A peaceful person. Perhaps you see where I’m going here: have you considered what it means to be a “peacemaker”? Often (especially) in Christian circles we may think this means we merely “keep the peace”—no matter what happens we just put up with it. We don’t make a fuss, we don’t stir the pot, we just suck it up, get over it, let it go. This is not true peace. (If you’ve ever tried these approaches only to notice bitterness, resentment, exhaustion and the like clanging about like shrap pebbles in your heart and increasingly weighing it down, you’ll know this is true.) Most thankfully, this kind of false peace is NOT what Jesus is calling us to.
Peace is not ignoring issues and acting like everything is okay when it’s not. Peace is not passivity. Peace is something we make. We make it between people and we make it in our hearts as well.
In the original language “peacemaker” is eirénopoios; literally eiréné [peace] and poieó [to make]. A fuller meaning of this original word for peace came from the root eirō, (to join, tie together into a whole) and implied wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; “peace” as in God’s gift of wholeness. One sense in which it was used was “the Messiah’s peace.” There’s some deep stuff in there.
Jesus the Messiah was our peacemaker. Before you knew Christ personally…
“… you were alienated from God and were [His] enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation”Colossians 1:21-22
What does it mean that Christ reconciled us to God? “God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through [Jesus] to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through [Jesus’] blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20) The phrase “making peace” here is eirēnopoiēsas, which you can clearly see is the same as the word “peacemaker” (save grammatical changes). Christ’s reconciling us to God was Him being our peacemaker.
As Christ’s followers we are also God’s children, Jesus’ representatives on earth—His ambassadors. We bring His peace with us and offer it to those around us. What is the Messiah’s peace, Jesus’ peace? If we truly understand the peace He gives us and what it cost for Him to restore the peace between us and God, we begin to know what it means to be peacemakers. It is not a job for doormats or wusses. It is difficult, costly, and at times painful. It is a high calling.
Peacemaking is hard work. Peacemaking requires empowerment by Jesus’ Holy Spirit. Peacemaking is the work of the children of God.
Peacemaking means inviting others to receive the reconciliation Jesus offers with God. It is so good to live in peace with God (and in His peace) rather than struggling through life as an enemy of the holy Creator and King of the universe. To have the deep peace of God enter one’s soul is life-changing.
Peacemaking also means imitating Christ, playing an active role in restoring the peace between yourself and the other. No matter whether you are the offender or the offended, you must be the peacemaker. Not forcing resolution or demanding peace (which will surely not produce the desired outcome), but in humility and grace seeking the restoration of relationship.
Although this may not be a personal strength or spiritual gift of yours, Christ calls each of us to this role. Seek to love peace, not revel in strife (drama). Bear the cost of addressing tensions/conflict and seeking to resolve it lovingly and graciously, humbly ask for/offer forgiveness, and put your hand to the plow to cultivate unity and peace. Peacemaking is not easy, but it is of Christ.