Peacemaking: The Seventh Beatitude

   Written by on July 13, 2017 at 9:46 am

logo-crotts-stephenBlessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.ew 5:9

In a Charles Schultz Peanuts comic strip, Lucy tells Charlie Brown, “If I were in charge of the world, I’d change everything . . . And I’d start with you!” Isn’t that just like us? But the beatitudes focus on one’s own self. “Let’s begin with you,” God says.

And so we move to the seventh beatitude of Jesus. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

What It Means

In the Greek peacemaker is elrene which simply means “peacemaker.” But in Hebrew the root word for peacemaker is shalom, a word rich in meaning. Shalom-peace is never just negative, as in the absence of trouble or war. It is also the presence of everything which makes for someone’s highest good.

A common misunderstanding of the seventh beatitude is the notion that it says, “Blessed are the peace-lovers . . .” Some there are who love peace so much they go along to get along, refuse to make waves, settle for peace at any price, evade the issues. To have peace they become appeasers. But Jesus warned, “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). So we are to be more than peacelovers. We’re called to peacemaking.

As an example of peacemaking, consider a common pot of violets on your household windowsill. A bit parched, starting to brown, they haven’t bloomed in two years. So you determine to be a peacemaker for them. First you have to take away harmful things. A dog chews on them. Kids knock the pot off the sill. It’s too cold or too hot where it sits. So you remove these threats. But you still haven’t created shalom. For you must add the presence of helpful things. Sunlight in the correct amount. Moisture. Fertilizer. Pruning. And in four months the pot of violets is a verdant, blooming beauty. You were a successful peacemaker.

Saint Augustine defined peace as “the tranquility of order.” It is the absence of things hurtful, the presence of things helpful. And it is not something we only strive to do for houseplants, it is something we do for people.

Historically, this beatitude has been understood several ways. The early fathers believed it meant making peace within their own souls. Each of us is a veritable civil war walking around battling within such foes as anger, bitterness, worry, jealousy, doubts, hate and other unsettling passions. Being a peacemaker means starting with yourself. So many of our early fathers of the faith joined monasteries and in a life of quiet reflection built peace. “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Others believe peacemaking is spiritual peace best achieved through evangelism. Romans 5:1 says, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

C. S. Lewis observed, “Man is not only a sinner who needs to be saved, he is a rebel who needs to lay down his arms.” You see, the entire human race is at war with God and we shall certainly be brought to bay and held accountable for our sinful deeds by an almighty, holy God.

Peacemaking then can be proclaiming the reconciliation and mercy God holds out in Jesus Christ. It is calling people to repentance and faith and a life of loving fellowship with God. This is spiritual peacemaking.

Still others understand being a peacemaker as creating sociological peace. It is working to make the world a better place, to establish justice, to cause quarreling to cease, to right wrongs, to establish right relationships with people.

During the Civil War, president Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Die when I may, I would like it said of me that I always pulled up a weed and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”

So will the real peacemaker please stand up? Is he spiritual? Sociological? Or psychological, sociological, political, ecological, or spiritual. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul wrote, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through; may your whole spirit, soul and body be kept . . ..” See here how God cares for the whole person?

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at carolinastudycenter@msn.com.

About Stephen Crotts

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at carolinastudycenter@msn.com.

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