Today’s Scripture – August 24, 2016

Matthew 5:9 (NIV) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

If there is one thing that characterizes the kingdom of the world, it is strife, conflict, a lack of peace.  The lack of peace is endemic to the world order, because the kingdom of the world is established on the principle of autonomy – each person being guided by his or her own wants and needs.

The kingdom of God, however, is characterized by peace and unity, because it is established on the principle of allegiance to the triune God, and holds that allegiance at the center of everything.  Everyone who truly belongs to the kingdom of God has come there by surrendering their whole lives to God, and sets obedience to God as the central focus of their lives.  And when all of those people are gathered together, there will naturally be peace and unity, because everyone has the same focus, the same goals, the same priorities.

To many, even in the Church, that all sounds far-fetched, unrealistic, and completely unattainable.  But the problem is not with this truth, but with the fact that so many in the Church have not surrendered their whole lives to God.  Instead, they have merely said a prayer, or raised a hand, hoping for an improved life and heaven someday.  Obedience to God is not a central focus of their lives.  Instead, their focus is primarily on their job, or their family, or their leisure activities.  They are still very much people of the world.  And their focus, goals, and priorities are not those of the others in the Church, which will ultimately result in conflict.

Jesus came to bring peace to a world in conflict – not simply a lack of war, but genuine unity around God and His priorities.  He made that peace possible first of all by dying to pay the cost for sins committed, making unity with God a real possibility.  That death and resurrection opened the way for all people to enter the kingdom of God.   Then, He sent the Holy Spirit to not only live in the hearts of all who belong to God, but to transform them from the inside out; removing their hearts of stone, and replacing them with hearts of flesh, writing God’s commands on those new hearts, and moving those transformed people to obey His commands (see Ezekiel 36:24-27).

When that transformation happens, conflict with God goes away, replaced by love and obedience.  And conflict with those who are also in God’s kingdom also goes away, replaced by cooperation, interdependence, and whole-hearted unity around God and His agenda.  Those who are thus unified become a whole, healthy, functioning body, that will continue the work of Jesus in the world.  And a big part of that work is bringing peace into the lives of people – peace with God, and the resulting peace with God’s people.

This work of being a peacemaker is needed today both in and out of the Church.  Unfortunately, as noted earlier, there are some in the Church who have never really experienced the genuine peace with God and with others that only comes from a wholehearted surrender to God and to His agenda.  Those need to be shown the way of Christ more clearly (cf. Acts 18:25-26), so that they can not only experience God’s peace, but so that they can become peacemakers themselves.  And, of course, there are countless people of the world who are longing for the true peace that can only come when they truly surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus.  Those who bring God’s peace to these peace-less people, whether in the Church or in the world, will be known as sons of God, or as the idiom really means, those who are like God in their peace-making work.

Father, there really is no shortage of people looking for real peace in their lives.  And there is also no shortage of people who are promising peace, but who have their own agendas that they are trying to sell.  True peace only comes when we have peace with You through complete surrender of ourselves to You and Your agenda.  Then we also have peace with your people since we will all be on the same page, with the same center, the same agenda, and the same priorities.  Help me today, Lord, to not only experience the full depth of this peace in my own life, but to help others experience it as well.  Help me to be a peacemaker today and every day.  Amen.

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