Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Sermon on the Mount
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
The word “peacemaker” is an accurate translation. Since no one can make the inward covenant peace in another, the concept here must be about external peace. Believers should be known for promoting peace between individuals as well as community peace as a whole. It is obvious to see that the power to do so is limited, however when believers exhibit a lifestyle of outward peace it can be used by the Spirit to draw men to the Prince of Peace. It is baffling how the western body of Christ has embraced all kinds of violence, usually under the guise of patriotism and nationalism.
Violence is man’s way to exert power and to protect the ownership of material things. It is counter to the gospel message and the character of Christ as well as the entire tone of the New Testament. And the only way a believer can justify violence is to blur the line between the Old Testament and the New Testament. That compromises the teachings and the example set forth by the Master Himself. We are to be a people of peace who serve the Prince of Peace and who preach a gospel that offers eternal peace between a rebellious race and their Creator.
God reserves revenge unto Himself, and He calls us to a life that is remarkable in its rejection of violence and revenge. If we as believers join in with the world’s view of violence, then what difference is there between us? The “just war” concept is nothing more than providing a platform for advocating violence whenever we deem it “just”. It is easy to advocate peace when there is no war, but to be a peacemaker when war exists is a difficult road to travel and usually results in castigation from believer and unbeliever alike.
One of the aspects of the early believers were that many refused to enter the military of their particular country and they were mocked and persecuted accordingly. Being a peacemaker will not always win you accolades. It will many times elicit criticism and attacks from every corner. Violence is a lucrative industry, and war lines the pockets of many a business man. And when the term “win” is used as it applies to a war it profoundly misrepresents the misery, heartache, and death that war leaves in its wake. No one wins in a war, it only seems that way in the natural and the nationalistic mind.
But God’s children should be known by a different standard. If believers join hands and hearts in supporting violence of any kind, then who can be identified as children of God? Jesus teaches that God’s offspring should be peacemakers. Well, what does that mean? Does it just mean arbitrating a family argument, or resolving a parking space dispute, or something on that level? Or is there a more profound and culturally remarkable manifestation of being a peacemaker that because of its uniqueness within a culture of violence stands in stark relief against that backdrop? Being a peacemaker goes much deeper than bringing warring parties to a truce. Being a peacemaker that identifies one as a child of the living God means taking a humble stand against all kinds of violence.
Aggression is at odds with the thrust and message of the gospel, as well as the volitional death of God the Son. The entire New testament is filled with an attitude of “turn the other cheek” and “do good to your enemies”. Violence cannot be parsed out with respect to the whims and purposes of each individual, and believing followers of the Lord Jesus must be known for their rejection of violence and promotion of peace that is on a much higher dimension than intervening in sibling squabbles . That in and of itself does not equate to eternal redemption, but perhaps it can be salt and light which can draw sinners to the Savior.
When the lives and views of believers are much the same as unbelievers, especially when it concerns issues as significant as violence and death, then it marginalizes the gospel and the kingdom of God. In effect it makes our lives and beliefs unremarkable within a culture of darkness, and makes our lives conform to the views and practices of fallen man, rather than being a brilliant reflection of the divine redemptive will. Many are those who promote peace that are motivated by the unpleasantness of war and the fear of losing a level of enjoyment of personal happiness in the material lifestyle. But that is not what Christ is suggesting.
We cannot be satisfied with a motivation based solely upon reason and the disruption of personal pleasure. Our views must be principles that are not only based upon the words and teachings of the New Testament, but are the direct revelations and substance of those words. Our views are not extrapolations of those teachings, but they are those teachings themselves. We are to be peacemakers because He commanded us to be so, and in the final analysis our outward peacemaking is a three dimensional model of the eternal peace that was made and offered at Calvary.
We are made children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. No amount of good works, including peacemaking, can accomplish that or even add to it. The peace that was forged between God and man at Golgotha is made a personal reality by simple faith alone. His redemptive labor needs no enhancement and is received as complete, even though we grow in its knowledge. But one way in which we can bear the moniker a “child of God” is by being a peacemaker. I have often referred to myself as a pacifist, however I believe I am going to change that to “peacemaker” since that verbiage is more reflective of the teachings of Christ. Pacifist means a rejection of violence, but being a peacemaker not only rejects violence but promotes peace.
The lion will one day lay down with the lamb, and the swords will be turned into plowshares. But until that day, we as believers in the Person who will bring that to pass, must be living prophetic images of a coming kingdom ruled by an Eternal King. We are by faith the children of that coming King.


Anonymous said...

Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and then call for Peace on Earth.

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~


Anyone can break this cycle of violence! Everyone has the power to choose compassion! Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: http://veganvideo.org & http://tryveg.com

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right."
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Rick Frueh said...

Every year the Earth produces enough food to feed everyone. The lack of distribution is due to humans, however it has nothing to do with eating meat. God Himself ordained the sacrifice of millions of animals in the Old Testament, and Peter was instructed to eat meat.

The vegetarian argument is a non sequitur.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for more sustenance for the soul. Peacemakers do have a hard road. Some in the church are coveting their "things". They seem to be fearful, worried that their standard of living might be lowered. They think those who can't rise above their unemployment, problems, need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps without outside help. There is no mercy compassion, caring for brothers who have such different circumstances. Some in the church fear they may pay higher taxes. Their fear church tax-exemptions will be removed. They fear their image (US exceptionalism) will become that of meak, weak turn-the-other-cheek wimps. They fear they won't have the upper hand, the best, the brightest, the richest, the most prosperous, in the world. Their fear shows they love the things of the world more than the things of God.

Am praying and keeping in mind that this was prophesied of, but if someone had told me 20 years ago that the christian mindset was like this, I couldn't have believed it. It was hard back then to believe the verse, "even the elect will be deceived". Now, that doesn't seem so impossible.

Anonymous said...

Yes, brother Rick, that's what I was thinking. It's not eating meat that is the problem but greed. And we're not to be gluttons.

Peacemaking, however, is about brother between brother. Do we even try to return good for evil? Do we even try to do good to those who hurt us?
Let us pray for God's grace to allow us to do that. To live like this is radical. But...we must be salt and light - really different, peculiar among the rest. We may be persecuted for that.

I live near a military base where patriotism runs pretty high. People have lost brothers, fathers, uncles, sons...in American wars. To speak out against war is to say that these people died in vain. The soldier's loved ones don't want to believe that. They must believe that war is "just". They died and otherwise sacrificed for a good cause - for this nation. To say you won't support that...can bring down fire on your head. They most often don't understand.
The nation, as all nations do, will go to war. But what is the true follower of Christ to do? Be a peacemaker.

Rick Frueh said...

What power would there be if all the western believers were known by their non-violent humility? And one evangelical ministry could be medics and nurses attending to the wounded soldiers.

I admire men and women who put their very lives on the line, however as a believer I cannot agree with war. But that does not mean we should feel superior, and it does mean we should minister to others who disagree with us. Pacifism does not mean we cannot be a healing balm to all - including our "enemies".

Would you as a doctor attend to a wounded terrorist? That, my friends, separates those who have a position and those who follow a Savior.

Anonymous said...

I look to you for pastoring and this sermon is another helpful yet challenging call to discipleship in Christ.

Meat does not contribute to world hunger. Animals, in fact, convert grass and brush into protein that is usable to humans in the form of meat and milk and eggs. Animals can be produced on land that is impossible or unwise to use for growing crop plants, like steep slopes and dry grasslands.

Greed, corruption, hatred, and ignorance, in a fallen world cursed by the result of sin, make world hunger.

I raise animals, work draft animals, and eat animals, and I help starving people in other places to do the same, and I know I will answer to God for how I have treated them. But they are animals. There are real issues with American style commercial meat production--yes, but meat itself is not evil.


Anonymous said...

I agree with what you're saying, Rick. I don't go around protesting war or the military - I'm just saying that if I was to not say the pledge of allegiance in a group of "patriots" or not sign a petition against flag burning or some such a thing - there are people who would get angry about that...and I understand.
Even though I understand their anger I still could not do those things. I have compassion and empathy for them - I understand that they've sacrificed - but I won't pledge allegiance to a flag of any nation, nor would I teach my children to do the same.
Would I treat an "enemy" if I were a medic? Of course I would.

DianaK(creeky37) said...

I read this post and wanted to add some comments by another Christian author on this subject as follows:

This seventh Beatitude has to do more with conduct than character, though, of necessity, there must first be a peaceable spirit before there will be active efforts put forth to make peace. Let it be remembered that in this first section of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus is defining the character of those who are subjects and citizens in His Kingdom...

After the giving of the Law, Israel was commanded to take up the sword and to conquer the land of Canaan, destroying the enemies of Jehovah. The risen Christ has given different orders to His Church. Throughout this Gospel dispensation, we are to go into all nations as heralds of the cross, seeking the reconciliation of those who by nature are at enmity with our Master... (Excerpts from The Beatitudes by A.W. Pink)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, DianaK, for bringing us back to topic in such a beautiful way.
God bless,

Anonymous said...

Very nice. Indeed.