September 23, 2007
INTRODUCTION – Suppose a certain father in Los Osos has two sons and two daughters. One of the sons and one of the daughters have determined that they do not need a father to tell them what they can do, and cannot do, nor do they need the hassle of having to share bedrooms, bathrooms and possessions with siblings. So as soon as they were able – the son at age 17, the daughter at age 18 – they flew the coop, and moved out with people they enjoyed hanging out with. This was very grievous to the father; but there was little he could do about it.
His other two children – a 19 year old son and a 15 year old daughter – loved their father, loved their family, and couldn’t understand why their brother and sister would not feel the same. Every Friday night when the father made reservations at the local steakhouse for dinner for his family – his 19 yr. old son and 15 yr. old daughter sat on the front porch waiting for their dad to come out and throw them all in the family van. Every Saturday morning, when the Father finished up his project list, the 19 yr. old son & 15 yr. old daughter were there waiting for their instructions.
Now the father loved his four children equally. He parented each of them with the same principles and values. And he longed to enjoy their fellowship equally. But which children do you think were actually able to experience the warmth of his fellowship and love?
Well when Jesus Christ told His disciples that peacemakers are blessed – because they will be called sons of God; He wasn’t saying that only peacemakers are born again. The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Galatians (3:26), “For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.” Everyone who places their faith in Christ and repents of their sins are sons and daughters of God.
But not everyone experiences the full blessings of that status. Only those who join in the Father’s sacrificial, merciful work of helping to extend peace to a world mired in contention and strife– experience the joy of sonship – the joy of working right alongside with Him in bringing peace to a world in turmoil.
There is an intimacy with God that only comes when we join with Him in His peacemaking mission. It is a similar proposition as when Jesus gave the great commission to His disciples after His resurrection; and He promised that He would be with them always – – that is to those who obeyed Him by going and making disciples of Jesus Christ.
I don’t know if you have ever thought of this. I hadn’t until I studied this verse this week. But this is the only beatitude where it says if someone walks in this characteristic they will be “called” something. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. Some of them are not repeatable in this gathering. But Jesus says, when His children join with Him in His peacemaking mission, they will be called (and perhaps He has in mind – by others) – – sons of God. In other words, because of their commitment to and effectiveness in bringing about peace where there was enmity and strife, they are thought of as those who must be close to God because they are like God in the way they treat and deal with people.
So if being a peacemaker in a contentious world brings joy to our lives and brings us into a truly intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and establishes before the world who we belong to, and perhaps even brings glory to God because of how we deal with people, how can we become such a person?
Before I share with you the five steps I believe the Lord wants us to focus on this morning, let’s review our definition of a peacemaker from last week:
A peacemaker is a believer who first of all walks in peace with God through Jesus Christ, and who then by the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, moves into a contentious situation, and according to God’s wisdom and truth – defuses it, and brings about true peace.
This could be between an individual and God; it could be between individuals; it could be between two groups, it could be even between nations. But for it to work with nations – it needs to be done by people who do it for the right motives and by the right power source.
Please keep in mind that Jesus is not calling out peace lovers or peace keepers. Peace makers are required – because peace has been broken in a specific situation or relationship, and it cannot and will not heal on its own.
I. 5 Steps towards being a God pleasing peacemaker A. Recognize and deal with the unseen forces first through prayer & standing in your authority – Eph. 6:10-12, 18
Matt. 18:18-20 (16:19)
Problem of gangs and strife in cities – Santa Rosa – church coming together
Problem of strife in nations – Drug wars – – Exciting that the church in many of these troubled lands is rising up (like Columbia) gov’t almost gave up fight against drugs and gangs
The most crucial act of peacemaking to be made on the earth is that of bringing an individual into a state of peace with God. For those of you who have seen God use you to bring this about, you know it can often be a long drawn out battle. For you or I to win that battle we first have to have peace. We have to have assurance that God and I are going to win this battle. This is where standing firm and standing in our authority in prayer is so vital.
Reality of battle some of you are fighting for family members – sons & daughters Ex. of St. Augustine’s mother
B. Ask God for wisdom – Jas. 1:5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” 3:13-18 – – please note the difference between what earthly wisdom and godly wisdom produce
C. For contention in your own relationships, make sure you do not provide fuel for the fire, and that you do not respond in kind. A peacemaker has to walk in peacefulness – or the qualities of peaceableness.
Prov. 26:20 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.” Co-workers example at water cooler – our boss is a behind!
Prov. 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger pacifies contention.” Marriage example “…But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19, 20
Phil. 4:9 “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
D. With Others’ Contentions: Appeal to the one most likely to value peace and who is least defensive. One of the realities of our seeking to be true disciples of Christ is it is often we who are more mature, who have to humble ourselves and take that first step to bring about peace. Sometimes we have to press our brothers and sisters to step up and humble themselves, because they want to stubbornly hold on to their “right” to hold a grudge.
E. Recognize that being a God pleasing peacemaker will depend on whether you are growing in the other beatitudes, or kingdom characteristics.
If you have become poor in spirit – that is – if you truly see yourself day in and day out as one who is in desperate need of God’s mercy and grace, and that you are the chief of sinners….
If you mourn as a way of life over your sinful condition, and the sin of those around you,
If you walk in gentleness and meekness towards others and are slow to lose patience with them and be harsh towards them, and judgmental of them
If you hunger and thirst for more righteousness in your own life
If you are merciful towards others – especially towards your weaker brothers and sister – who just seem to always be going one step forward and two steps backward
If you are pure in heart – always quick to confess your specific sins – Striving to maintain a cleansed heart before the Lord and others –
Then and only then will you be effective in peacemaking in your family, extended family, neighborhood, workplace, school, community and beyond.
This principle is also reflected in Psalm 85:8—13
II. Some Questions to Ponder: A. So are you saying wherever I find contention am I supposed to jump in and try to defuse it? Not necessarily. Prov. 9:7,8 “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.”
Just because there is dissension and contentiousness and we are aware of it, does not mean we are to try to solve it. (my ex. with MBHS & SEWER)
B. Can we expect groups like Los Osos or the staff at one of our schools, who are experiencing dissension and strife to experience peace when they do not know and bow down to Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace? Only the kingdom of God promises the continual and full experience of peace according to Rom. 14:7. “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
So the answer is ultimately no. But because we are called to be salt and light in a decaying society, I believe we can still be used to bring about a level of peace that would not be possible apart from our help.
One of the things we need to see change in both Los Osos and Morro Bay is we need true Christians who walk in peace and know the way of peace to be represented on our governing boards or City Councils.
C. Why if Jesus is the Prince of Peace and died for our peace, did He say, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34-39)
CONCLUSION – I Thess. 5:23 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Heb. 13:20 “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Commission them as peacemakers