“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
The seventh beatitude that Jesus pronounces is a blessing for peacemakers; those who seek healthy and loving relationships with friends and even enemies. It is these humble destroyers of enmity and hostility that will be recognised as children of God, a title only given to those who are redeemed through Christ, saved from God’s wrath and adopted into the heavenly kingdom. However, we know that those who have faith in Christ already are the children of God (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26). So why does Jesus tell his disciples that it is the peacemakers who are called children of God?
We should not get the impression that being a certain type of person – meek, merciful, and peaceable – will give you a place in God’s kingdom. Rather, those who are already bought into God’s kingdom will admit their spiritual poverty, hunger and thirst for righteousness, exercise mercy, and strive for purity. And if we were to look at it more broadly, Jesus is setting out one of the marks of a true Christian through the seventh beatitude. He says that the children of God resemble Him, and if He is the God of peace (Romans 15:33, 1 Thessalonians 5:23), then His children must also be peacemakers.
With all this in mind, how can we be peacemakers if others refuse to forgive us or apologise? Or what if in order to make peace, we might have to deny the truth?
Before I briefly highlight some important principles, you must recognise that sacrifices are necessary if you wish to make peace. Such sacrifices may be our pride, our facade of ‘I am okay’, the comfort of our locked rooms, vengeance, and more, all for perhaps a single awkward conversation. Peace might not be made even if you make sacrifices, but it certainly won’t if you don’t. If you are willing to make such sacrifices, then here are two crucial points to making peace:
Firstly, you must examine yourself before accusing others. If you recall your childhood memories, we have all been that child who has shouted “But he started it!” and have directed blame at others. And we should know by now that blaming others never pardons or justifies sin. In fact, the man by whom sin entered the world blamed his wife, and that did anything but justify him. Whenever you have conflict with a fellow brother or sister, ensure to examine yourself vigorously for any logs in your eyes before you point out the speck in theirs (Matthew 7:1-5). It is this humble approach which allows for proper reconciliation, because you will be too busy seeking and offering forgiveness to point fingers.
Secondly, you must aim to seek peace without compromising on the truth. This perhaps is more applicable in our relationships with non-Christians than with Christians. The same lips that pronounced ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ also declared, ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.’ (Matthew 10:34). This is no contradiction, for in Matthew 10:32-39, Jesus is declaring that to follow him demands our unconditional obedience and allegiance. In fact, Jesus himself makes peace between God and the world by dying on the cross (Colossians 1:20). This is the true and lasting peace the world needs, not just a mind-peace that your opinion is accepted, but a soul-peace that you are reconciled with God (Colossians 1:22). And so, in seeking peace with others, we need to be careful not to compromise the truth of Scripture lest we find that in trying to please others, we reduce the significance of the cross that we were called to carry.