Throughout history, the world has been devoid of lasting peace. In this midst of this reality, followers of Jesus seek the deepest peace that only Christ can give.
How do we understand biblical peace? How can we start to let it rule our hearts and minds? How can we strive to bring peace into our groups? How can these conversations even begin?
In his latest Bible study on the Beatitudes, Derwin Gray shares about peacemaking. We can learn from his wisdom excerpted below.
The Call to Make Peace
As Jesus continued His prescription for happiness, He said,
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God
Reread Matthew 5:7-8. How are these three Beatitudes related?
Pursuing peace (Matt. 5:9) is intertwined with hungering and thirsting for righteousness and being merciful (Matt. 5:7-8). Becoming a peacemaker requires that God has first brought us into peace with Him through the forgiveness that comes by grace through faith in Jesus. Then out of the overflow of the Holy Spirit’s power God enables us to live righteously and mercifully in response to the gospel.
Read Romans 5:1.
What did God do to pursue peace with us?
Notice that Jesus said happy are the peacemakers not happy are the peaceful. What’s the difference between those two things?
God’s righteousness has always been about embodying God’s love, and God’s love is always merciful. The good life—a life of happiness—is loving God, ourselves, and all of humanity. In the kingdom of God, there‘s “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Peace isn’t passive. Being peaceful is a fleeting state of mind. Peacemaking is an active, God-given pursuit. It’s the intentional act of God in Christ reconciling us to Himself through the cross and enabling us to extend peace to others. Making peace is hard, happy gospel-work.
Does it surprise you to hear that peacemaking is “work”? Why must peace be actively sought instead of passively assumed?
The world Jesus lived in was chaotic, violent, and tumultuous. Jewish men were awaiting the Messiah to usher in peace by eradicating the Romans from their homeland, and the Romans believed Caesar would usher in peace. Rome’s method of ensuring peace was through force and brutality.
How was Jesus’ peace different from the peace the world expected?
Jesus saw and experienced Roman oppression, hardships of being poor, and living on the margins. Jesus’ peace extended beyond the borders of circumstance. Others’ expectations couldn’t contain it. People could only experience the peace Jesus taught about through communion with God. When we say the happiness He taught about was more than the good feeling you get when something nice happens to you, we know Jesus meant it. He experienced it constantly.
Making Peace When It’s Hard
Read Romans 12:19-21.
Why must we make peace despite difficulty?
What keeps you from experiencing peace and making peace with others?
Is there anyone against whom you’re holding a grudge and withholding peace? How might letting that go lead to a greater sense of happiness?
When Jesus correlated our happiness with being peacemakers in a world of violence, injustice, and hardship, people would have seen that as radical. Jesus’ method of eradicating the Romans from the Promised Land wasn’t to cast them out with the sword but to usher them into the peace of God, so they could become peaceful people. For Jesus, seeking vengeance is a tool of the ungodly. The Prince of Peace entered a world devoid of peace to create peacemakers.
Holy Spirit, help us to be people of peace in a world that needs the peace You secured with Your blood on the cross.