The House That Peace Built
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.”
I love the idea of the house that peace built. That almost sounds like something straight out of the 60’s; something that hippies and flower children would do. The house that peace built; a place with peace as one of its raw materials.
What would that look like? A lot of beatniks hanging back? A lot of love and peace being shared? Never an angry word or a harsh deed done? A place with the inviting aroma of borscht and fresh zwieback wafting through the air?
What does a house that peace built look like? That’s what we will look at today.
Mercy, Purity and Peace
Of course, it isn’t just peace but also mercy and purity
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Mth. 5:7, 8
This new house of ours is built with mercy, purity and peace.
Of the three, peace is the one I have puzzled most over. If you could use only three descriptors of essential Christianity, would peace make it into the final list? It is important, don’t get me wrong, but is it essential?
The first two I totally get. Of course it’s mercy and of course it’s purity but if you had only three raw materials to choose from and two had to be mercy and purity, what would you make the third one?
I get mercy as being the first and most natural response in the world to those who have been shown mercy.
Everything about even being allowed to rebuild screams mercy. We should never have been allowed to rebuild. We allowed our old house to fall into such disrepair that we should have been barred from ever building again.
And even as we are building our new house we are far from perfect. Were it not for the corrective support of the Holy Spirit, who is our inspector and superintendent, we would quickly veer off track and maybe even go back to the rubble and rot of the old place.
So I get mercy and totally understand how instinctively I will show mercy to anyone who comes my way.
I also get purity as being an absolute building block, since everything about God screams out purity.
If anyone is holy, it’s Him, right? So yes, my heart as the ‘wellspring of my life’, where the seat of my intellect, emotion, volition and spirit is located, better reflects the purity of God.
And so, yes, purity makes it into the final list of three, hands down.
That then leaves the question of the last raw material. Consider the contenders for that last spot.
It could have been one of the big three stars of I Cor. 13, namely faith, love or hope, especially love which is the greatest of these.
It could have been one of Paul’s fruit of the Holy Spirit, which includes such heavy hitters as joy, goodness, gentleness and self-control.
It could also have come from the list of Plato’s seven heavenly virtues of chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, forgiveness, kindness, and humility.
And The Winner Is?
So given all these very impressive contenders for the final spot why would peace be the one?
Part of the answer is seen in what peace is linked to in the Beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”
Wow, what a claim! Not that achieving peace makes you a son of God, but that becoming a son of God most naturally and easily results in peace.
Peace is the evidence that you are a child of God. If the foundation that you are building on is “the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone”, especially with Jesus as the chief corner stone and Prince of Peace, then peace will be the outcome.
Considering whom Jesus is and what he came to accomplish, it only makes sense that peace would be the final building material to be used in building your new house.
So mercy, purity and peace are the indicators that this is the house of righteousness and that you belong to the family of God!
If we don't obtain mercy, we receive judgment. If we don't see God, we are not in heaven. If we aren't called the sons of God, we are outside the family. In other words these are all descriptions of final salvation. And it is promised only to the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.
The God of Peace
That it would be peace that made the final three makes perfect sense when you consider that everything about God exudes peace.
Peace is the key characteristic of our heavenly Father and it would only make sense that his sons would have their father’s eyes or their father’s heart, in this case.
“What Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:9 is that people who have become sons of God have the character of their heavenly Father. And we know from Scripture that their heavenly Father is a "God of peace" (Romans 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20). We know that heaven is a world of peace (Luke 19:38). And most important of all, we know that God is a peacemaker!” John Piper
God’s work on the cross screams peace and reconciliation. There is no better definition of peace than the cross.
Our personal sin, resulting in our sense of loss, death and decay, was the deepest possible offence to God (we could not have insulted God more if we tried than by indulging in our sinful life the way we did).
And what does He do, but turns around, forgives us, restores what we lost and offers it to a humanity of whom many still turn Him down.
He makes a peace offering to us.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” II Cor. 5:19
Consider the cost of the peace offering:
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Col. 1:19, 20
“Making peace through his blood.” Wait a minute, let’s back this train up a little. Who offended whom and whose blood did you say was shed?
We offended him, right? Deeply offended Him with our sin and yet not only does He make the first move toward us, but takes away our sin the only way possible and that is blood for blood, life for life, death for death.
Talk about consumed by peace. Who would go to such lengths to reach out to one’s own enemies? If we all did that there would be no wars!
“God is a peace-loving God, and a peacemaking God. The whole history of redemption, climaxing in the death and resurrection of Jesus, is God's strategy to bring about a just and lasting peace between rebel man and himself, and then between man and man. Therefore, God's children are that way, too. They have the character of their Father. What he loves they love. What he pursues they pursue. You can know his children by whether they are willing to make sacrifices for peace the way God did.” John Piper
Since God is a peacemaker then we will be peacemakers as well. It is the evidence that we have in fact become sons of God.
Sons of God by their very definition are those who are as radicalized about peacemaking as God was, continues to be and will forever be.
So let us be makers of peace.
We are talking about radicalized peacemaking. Not something casual, convenient or at low cost to us. Instead, it’s peacemaking that extends even to your enemies and to those who oppose you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Mth. 5:43-48
That, my friends, is radicalized peacemaking.
Notice some concrete steps in radicalized peacemaking. Not only loving your enemies and praying for those who actually persecute you, but to also build bridges toward them.
This only makes sense with the Spirit of Christ in your bones and the foundation of righteousness that you have laid and are now called to build the house that peace built.
The old house would have loved friends and greeted only your own people. The new house, the house that peace built, actually loves everyone including enemies and warmly greets and welcomes everyone; friend, stranger and enemy alike!
The old house would have invited only friends and family over to the table while leaving the stranger and enemy outside; the new house serves borscht and zwieback to all.
And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Mth. 5:47
“In other words, if there is a rupture in one of your relationships, or if there is someone who opposes you, don't nurse that grudge. Don't feed the animosity by ignoring and avoiding that person. That is the natural thing to do—just cross the street so that you don't have to greet them. But that is not the impulse of the Spirit of a peacemaking God, who sacrificed his Son to reconcile us to himself and to each other.
Peacemaking tries to build bridges to people. It does not want the animosity to remain. It wants reconciliation. It wants harmony. And so it tries to show what may be the only courtesy the enemy will tolerate, namely, a greeting. The peacemaker looks the enemy right in the eye and says, "Good morning, John." And he says it with a longing for peace in his heart, not with a phony gloss of politeness to cover his anger.” Piper
That is radicalized peacemaking.
Peace in Our Time
Key to this is understanding the ‘far as it depends on you’ aspect of peacemaking. Will peace be possible in our times? No guarantee!
Even though we take the initiatives of prayer, loving and reaching out, this does not guarantee we will always succeed.
Peacemaking is not the same as peace achieving. Even though we long for peace and work toward it, there is no guarantee it will come. In fact, there are even times when achieving so-called peace was the result of selling out to the devil.
That’s why it says: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Rom. 12:18
The point is to make sure that you have exhausted all means and that you have gone the second mile.
“Don't let the rupture in the relationship be your fault.” Piper
There is a further aspect to this idea of peace in our time. It was actually Chamberlain who coined the phrase “peace in our time” upon his return from the Munich Accord with Hitler in 1938 that determined the fate of Czechoslovakia in exchange for peace.
“ My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.” Chamberlain
The speech is remembered for its great irony of how less than a year later all of Europe was plunged into WW II.
You don’t make a deal with the devil. Radical peacemaking is not peace at any cost nor do you sacrifice truth and righteousness on its altar.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Rom. 12:18
And Paul should know. There will be times when peace will not be possible as was the case among the Corinthians.
“I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” I Cor.11:18-19
Some things cannot be compromised on. There are absolute truths that remain as absolute truths regardless of the situation and thus sides will be created. That’s why it says ‘peacemakers’ and not peace lovers.
This is not peace at all costs nor peace always in our times, but peace as far as it depends upon you, and that does not compromise the truth.
“In other words, you must love peace and work for peace. You must pray for your enemies, and do good to them, and greet them, and long for the barriers between you to be overcome. But you must never abandon your allegiance to Him and His word, no matter how much animosity it brings down on your head.” Piper
The Truly Weighty Matter Today!
You would think with all this talk of Chamberlain that there is a public or even political aspect to peace, and that this would be the arena in which peacemaking is to happen.
Especially with the direction this world is going, should we not stand up to the likes of Mr. Putin or Kim Yong of North Korea, and should peace making not be in the public arena?
While we should be concerned about bringing peace into every sphere of life, and should be committed to peace in the public arena, it is neither the place where peace begins nor the way that peace breaks out.
While it is commendable that peace envoys seek to bring opposing parties to the table be it in Syria, Ukraine or Korea, the truth of the matter is that peace begins in the hearts of men and women.
Remember what I said last week about the role of the heart? It is the wellspring of life, the place where all life begins, and if you can make its waters sweet you will make everything sweet!
That’s why Jesus never took a political stand and that’s why if He commented on political matters it was only for the purpose of driving home the point that these matters must be settled in the heart of individuals instead of the boardrooms of the powerful.
They had their Hitler’s and Kim Yong’s in Jesus times as well.
Jesus knew that Archelaus slaughtered 3000 Jews at the Passover; he was aware that Pilate’s soldiers bludgeoned those who protested over the temple treasury theft and He knew that Jews were massacred on the temple ground and their blood mixed their sacrifices.
Yet Jesus always personalized issues of upheaval and terror. He never became political but was always personal.
In Luke 13 when he was told of one of Pilate’s atrocities, his comment was to personalize it:
“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:2
He takes major social outrage of injustice in his day and turns it into a demand for personal repentance; something he does again and again.
It isn’t only because the eternal destiny of a soul is far more important than even the destiny of a nation but also because if you can bring peace into the heart of a human being, deep down at the bottom of their heart where the wellspring of life begins, you will eventually see rivers of peace cascading forth into every aspect of life.
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” Mth. 12:33
It’s no coincidence that one of the fruits of the new life is peace. Make a heart good and its fruit will bear peace. Bring peace between man and God and its fruit will be peace!
I love how Piper links what he calls the truly weighty matter of peace in our time to peace in our hearts:
“Every individual must become a new creature if you are to have eternal life. You must have a new heart. Without a merciful, pure, peacemaking heart you cannot be called a son of God. And that is the truly weighty matter in the world today.”
Peace with God?
So have you made peace with God? The only thing that matters is that the storms in your heart have been stilled and that the old enmity between you and God has been removed.
The God of peace has built a bridge named Jesus Christ toward you. If you have let Jesus into your life you will be at peace with God, at peace with yourself and at peace with your neighbor
“Blessed are you peacemakers who pray for your enemies and greet your opponents with love and sacrifice like your heavenly Father for the reconciliation of people to God and to each other, for you will be called sons of God and inherit eternal life in the kingdom of your Father.”
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