One of the most important motifs in all of Scripture is peace making. The gospel is God’s message of peace, mediated by Christ to us who rebelled against Him from the very beginning. Reconciliation is at the very heart of redemption. That is, Christ died not only so that we might escape hell, but more importantly to reconcile us back to God. So it is not surprising that Jesus would add among the traits of the blessed man the trait of not just being peaceful, but being peacemakers. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. My aim today is to answer the following questions:
1.) Does becoming a peacemaker a means of becoming children of God?
2.) What does being called sons of God means?
3.) What it means to be a peacemaker?
4.) Who are the peacemakers?
The quick answer to this question is no. Becoming children of God presupposes that there was a time when we’re not. And those who are not children of God are by nature disobedient rebels who are at war with their creator and everyone who would deny them independence. In other words if you’re not a child of God, you can never be a peacemaker. Therefore becoming a peacemaker can’t be the means by which we will become children, because we can’t manufacture such peace. All of us were born violent, insolent, unloving, begrudging creatures. I’m not saying that you don’t want peace, but you want it at the expense of the peace of others. Left to ourselves, if God would remove his restraining grace we will devour each other. So if the means of becoming a child of God is peacemaking, then no one will be saved.
So how does one become a child of God?
To answer this question we need to look at other passages. For example, in John 1:12 we are told, “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” Or in Galatians 3:26 it says, “For in Christ we are all sons of God through faith.” In other words, we become sons of God by trusting in Christ for salvation. Now if you dig even deeper 1 Peter 1:23 tells us that we are born again as children of God by the living word of God. Dig more and you will see in Romans 10:17 that the faith by which we will be called children of God is granted to us by God by the hearing of his word. Dig deeper and ultimately you will see in John 1:13 and John 3 that being born again, born from above, born of God will only happen by the sovereign will of God. So becoming a child of God is ultimately in the hands of God, and the means by which he will brought it about is by awakening faith in us through the gospel. This is how would anyone ever become a child of God. This is the only way. The miracle of new birth must happen.
So if becoming a child of God is not what Jesus meant when he said, “they shall be called sons of God,” then what does it mean?
Notice that it says “shall be called”. Jesus was not talking about a change of being or essence but it is more about an acknowledgement of being and essence. Jesus simply says that sons of God are in fact peacemakers. People who are peacemakers will be recognized as the sons of God at the judgment and they will be called what they really are.
Take note also that the translation I used says “sons” and not “children”. Their meaning may overlap but the difference is quite significant. D.A Carson said, “In Jewish thought, “son” often bears the meaning “partaker of the character of,” or the like. If someone calls you the “son of a dog,” this is not an aspersion on your parents, but on you: you partake of the character of a dog. Thus, “son of God” may have a different connotation than “child of God.” Both expressions can refer to some sort of filial relationship; but the former has more emphasis on character than position.” Therefore to be called sons of God means to be called as someone who bears and reflect the character of God. To be specific, His peacemaking character. Now look at Romans 8:14, it says “All who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” And what is the fruit of the Spirit? The fruit of the Spirit is peace! So the sons of God must be peacemakers. You will know those who belong to God by their fruit. If you don’t bear such fruit, then you are not his. A child of God will be like his Father.
So what it means then to be a peacemaker? Look with me in Matthew 5:43-45. Both Matthew 5:9 and this texts describe how we can show ourselves to be sons of God. “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Notice verse 45, ” . . . so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” It has the same idea as in Matthew 5:9. So in Christ mind, loving your enemy is the same as peacemaking. Or we can perhaps even say that love includes peacemaking. That’s how God demonstrated his love for us, it is by reconciling us to himself by sending His Son to die for us. This is the kind of peacemaking that God wants his children to reflect, not just peacekeeping. What’s the difference between the two? Peacekeeping avoids conflicts, while peacemaking is bringing peace by confronting issues and conflicts even if it means they will be opposed, and be persecuted. As I said before in the previous beatitudes, it takes one to be born again before anyone can become this blessed man. Everyone wants to keep the peace but only the children of God would make peace or be a harbinger of peace while at the same time not compromise the truth and our peace with God. If friendship with God means enemy with world, then so be with. Peace with God is of first importance than manufactured peace with men. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” So we must not neglect the priority here. Purity is primary. It is no accident that what comes before this beatitude is purity of heart. And we learn from it that a pure heart does not delight in falsehood and does not lift its soul to another. Our allegiance is to the King. But at the same time Paul tells us in Romans 12:18 that if possible so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. So Paul, James and Jesus were realistic. They know that there will be times that when we confront and try to settle conflicts others might turn against us. So this means that peacemaking can be a one way street. We, like our Father in heaven and Jesus our mediator to God, will become initiators and mediators of reconciliation between men and we will be persecuted because of it. People will turn their anger toward us, but may it never be that we become the cause of their stumbling.
Lastly who are the peacemakers? How does the Scripture portray someone as a peacemaker?
Here’s what one commentary says about this person:
Therefore the peacemaker is the person who has made peace with God (Ro. 5:1), and knows the peace of God. They love peace, but they do not passively accept trouble. There are those who claim to love peace, yet they remove themselves from all trouble. They ignore and flee from problems and threatening situations, and they often evade issues. They make no attempt to bring peace between others. The peacemaker (of whom Christ speaks) faces the trouble no matter how dangerous, and works to bring a true peace no matter the struggle. He goes forth to settle the matter, solve the problem, handle the differences, and reconcile the parties.