Matthew 5:9

9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
NIV New International Version

9You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate
instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you
really are, and your place in God's family.
MSG The Message Bible

9Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous--
with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless
of their outward conditions) are the makers and
maintainers of
peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!
AMP The Amplified Bible

9God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
NLT New Living Translation

9God makes happy those who make peace between people.
They will be called God's sons.
WE Worldwide English (New Testament)

Happy are those who make peace, for they will be known as
sons of God!   

J. B. Phillips Translation

9 O the bliss of those who make men friends with each other,
for they shall be ranked as the sons of God.
Translation by William Barclay

People who make peace happen are God's children

Source not known to me

If we are going to bring about peace in the world, we have to
begin with the children.    

Mahatma Gandhi

Others will recognize us as children of God
when we live in peace with those around us
rather than fighting to get our own way.    

Sylvia Klauss

What can be said about peace that could not be dismissed as just
an illusion, a pipe dream, or as naive, trite, ignorant, stupid, ill-informed,
other-worldly, irrelevant, boring, out-of-touch, unworthy, of no consequence!
Peace sounds like a political concept. And there's nothing like mixing
politics and religion if you want to witness an explosion of opinions and
pent-up rage. Lively and angry words will bounce off the walls and fly
madly about in all directions. It seems one needs a helmet when
talking about peace! Maybe even some body armor!

Why do we need to talk about peace? Why would Jesus give his
blessing to peacemakers? As individuals and families, as members
of society and citizens of the world, we long for peace and security.
Peace on earth does begin with each one of us. Peace is the fertile
soil out of which the good things of life can grow. It doesn't just come
naturally, but we can learn to live together peaceably. Peace, freedom,
reconciliation--it sure beats conflict, hostility and aggression.

In the first few verses of the Bible we read that God created order
out of chaos. The waters were raging, it was totally dark. Everything
was formless, desolate and hopelessly awry. God hovered over the
turbulent conditions, and spoke light into the darkness. Then God
separated the adverse forces and established a framework of harmony.
God made peace happen. And it was good.

So it is only natural that Jesus would refer to peacemakers as children
of God. Blessed are those who mediate peace, who speak light over
the darkness, who are intentionally present in chaotic situations, who
have a vision for peace and work to bring it to pass. You who are
peacemakers are definitely God's sons and daughters. Without you,
we would live in chaos, violence and hopelessness.

For starters, let's look at some images of peace in the Bible.
"Go in peace" is a common phrase meaning that we part company
with someone, knowing that whatever has happened between us in
the past is valuable shared history, and we wish each other well going
forward. The phrase about holding one's peace is also used frequently.
We "hold our peace", specifically our tongue, when the timing is bad
and it's best to leave our feelings and opinions unexpressed for the
common or immediate good.

Peace in the Bible is often connected to God. Peace of God, with
God or from God. Righteousness and joy are associated with peace.
Paul's letters include the salutation, "Grace and peace to you", as
though that was the best there is to say to another person. A river of
peace, or the abundance of peace, is reserved for those who obey
the commands of God and walk in God's ways.

A classic picture of peace is the lion and the lamb who lie down together.
This is an unnatural image, not of this world. A mystery, a miracle, a
picture of heaven? Micah 4:3 speaks of beating swords into plows and
spears into pruning tools. The promised Messiah was said to be the
Prince of Peace, and at Jesus' birth angels proclaimed peace on earth
and goodwill to all.

Most of the stories of the Bible are not about peace. Our spiritual father,
Abraham, once took up arms. Raiders had seized his nephew, Lot and
all Lot's possessions. Abraham and 318 of his workers went after the
raiders and rescued the nephew. After the exodus, Moses presided
over some major battles. Joshua "conquered" the people native to the
Promised Land. The kings of Israel were military leaders who led their
troops against neighboring tribes. The great king David in particular
was a man of war. Supposedly he was creating peace, which lasted
a whole generation or about 40 years. As you read the Old Testament,
for all the talk of peace, there was very little of it.

The people of the New Testament lived under Roman occupation.
Jesus came preaching, healing and teaching. He proclaimed a kingdom
of heaven for any who would believe. And unlike Abraham, God did not
rescue Jesus when Jesus was arrested and condemned to death.
Instead God was once more hovering over the chaos, speaking light
into the darkest of nights, and creating something new in the heart
and spirit of his people.

My favorite image of peace in the Bible is in I Kings 4:25 and repeated
again in Micah 4:4. Peace is pictured as--every man with his family
sitting under their own vine and fig tree! No fear. At rest from all enemies.
Each family being secure with a home to call their own and a means
to provide the basics of life. In an agrarian society, a peaceful society
existed when there were no enemies intent on taking what you had.
In peacetime, no one would rape your land, your wife or your daughters.
Your sons would not be lost to war. You could plant, nurture, harvest
and live off your crops without fear that someone would come and
destroy your work and put your survival in jeopardy. In a peaceful
environment, no one would drive you away from your home and into
the caves in the hillside. You could live without fear and rest secure
from all enemies. That was peace.

"Every man under his own vine and fig tree" creates an atmosphere
of respect and respectability, initiative and industry, connectedness
and satisfaction. It eliminates shame and humiliation, poverty and want,
and the need for revenge and retaliation.

History tells us that poverty and hopelessness breed violence; injustice
and inequality lead to bitterness and revenge. We know that as long as
there is exploitation, the rich and powerful have reason to be afraid.
Those who take from others need to spend an inordinate amount of
time, money and energy guarding what they have taken. Raiding,
fleecing, out-smarting someone--it's not a good idea. It doesn't
make for peace.

I live in PA Dutch Country and one of the things I like to show visitors
is the Amish cemeteries. When you look across an Amish cemetery,
all the stones are the same size. They are relatively small, just big
enough to do the job and no bigger. I think there is a good lesson in that.
We run into problems when we think the life of one person is more
important than the life of the next person.

It disturbs me that we Americans think its OK to fight our wars
overseas in the countries of other people. As though we are better,
more valuable than they are! Boasts about being #1 may create
excitement at a sporting event, but it has no place in international
relations. #1 has no equals, only inferiors. That attitude cannot make
a lasting peace.

I recently read an article about producing homegrown fuel from corn.
I cannot vouch for the validity of this statement, but even if its only
partly true, it raises a flag of caution: "The grain required to fill a
25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol could feed one person for a year. . . .
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that world grain consumption
will increase by 20 million tons this year. Of that, 14 million tons will
be used to fuel cars in the U.S., leaving only 6 million tons to cover
the world's growing food needs." [Lester Brown, Fortune magazine,
Aug. 21, 2006, p16.] It sounds like grain wars may be next! What are
we Americans thinking?--does our way of life have more value than
the life of a hungry, poor person! It will not make for peace.

"Why do they hate us so?" That was the question in America after
9/11/01. Five years later, we still do not know the answer. How could
we know; we refuse to talk to the enemy! How can we understand
the hostility when we refuse to listen? One way to increase our safety
would be to stop making more enemies.

If the picture of peace is that each family (in our neighborhoods and
in our world) feels safe and has what they need, then we must be
alert to the accelerating gulf between those families receiving top dollar
paychecks while the income and resources of the middle class are
shrinking. It doesn't make for peace.

There's much more to peace than the big public issues. Peacemaking
is a significant part of all our personal relationships. Wherever you
have influence, that is where you need to work at creating and
maintaining peace.

There were peace offerings in the Old Testament, in the New
Testament we are instructed to live in peace; maybe when we live
together peacefully, it is a gift we offer to God. Romans 12:18 says,
"If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with
all men." Peace is as fragile, and as resilient, as the people we
relate to every day.

What are some first steps toward peace? What can we do today?
What is one peacemaking action I could take right now?

  • Recognize that peace is worth your time and energy.
  • Read a book about conflict resolution or good communication skills.
  • Talk to someone you respect about peacemaking.
  • Make the first move toward reconciliation.
  • Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • Ask your adversary to help you understand why there is conflict
              between you.
  • Learn to disagree without being disagreeable and quarrelsome.
  • Stand back and try to see the bigger picture.
  • Pick your battles carefully, making sure the fight is worth it.
  • If you have a problem with someone, talk to them, not about them.
  • Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies. It's very hard to hate
              someone we pray for.
  • Keep a vision of peace in your heart and mind. Then believe
              and watch it come to pass.
  • If you call someone a jerk they will probably act like one.
              So experiment with positive words instead
              and see if their behavior improves.
  • Respect the other person.
  • Forgive.
  • Build a bridge of peace instead of a wall of fear.
  • Sing a song; we cannot fight while we are singing.
  • Try the "one cuts the pie and the other gets first pick" method.
  • Accept genuinely and sincerely those who do not agree with you.
  • Take responsibility for your reactions and attitudes.
  • Befriend people who don't seem to belong.
  • Everyone has a life story to tell. If there is someone you don't like,
              encourage them to tell you their story.
  • Take on the challenge of trying to turn your enemy into your friend.

Anything that makes life better for another person contributes to peace.
Dictators do not create real peace--therefore reconcile differences
without destroying the spirit and uniqueness of the other. Think of winners
and losers in this way: Both sides must give something, both sides must
win something. Anything that builds another person up, reduces the
likelihood that they will commit an act of violence.

Peacemakers are truly children of God--reborn, starting over again,
in the image and likeness of God. Full of joy, happy, blessed by the
miracle of peace.

Peace, Brother. Shalom. Paz. Salam. Amani. May peace prevail.
Remember, it does depend on you. Make it happen!

Finally, "Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God
for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God's
peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts
and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 TEV

Depending on your circumstances in life, you may know little or no
peace. But despite those circumstances, Jesus wants you to receive
his peace. Even if you are required to do what you do not wish to do,
or forced to go where you do not want to go--you can know his peace
and rest secure in Jesus' arms. He is the Good Shepherd, the calm
in every storm, the comfort in every sorrow, the peace that knows
no boundaries.

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