Text: Matthew 5:9, Matthew 10:26-31, Ephesians 2:11-22, John 14:27-31, Psalm 34:1-22
The womb is where I learned that relationships take work. I shared the space with my twin sister, Nikki. With four elbows, four knees, and twenty fingers and toes jammed into such cramped corners, I doubt peace was a part of my prenatal development. I’ve been fighting for peace in my relationships ever since.
I’m not sure where we got the impression that once life reaches a certain cruising altitude, we can wave goodbye to turbulence. Every era in history is marked with wars and rumors of wars, and every decade of our lives brings its share of tensions, squabbles, and cold shoulders. Turmoil is a constant in our changing world. Jesus was not naïve to this reality. He calls us to pursue peace anyway.
If you read through the Beatitudes as a list of dos and don’ts, you might find yourself tripping on this one: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Are you able to change the habits that wreak havoc on your relationships? If you were, you would have done it already.
Are you able to force reconciliation between your bickering children or squabbling neighbors? Probably not. There’s strike two.
Are you able to resolve the conflicts raging across the geopolitical landscape? Nope. Strike three!
But where we are weak, Christ’s power is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9). The gospel never fails to shoot up a beacon of hope.
This list of blessings handed down from Jesus goes far beyond a checklist for right living. It lays the groundwork for the gospel. We can’t begin to get relief in our relationships or to move toward others in reconciliation without first looking to the cross.
True peace is a byproduct of Christ’s work of the cross. True reconciliation begins with His work on our behalf, then bubbles over into our connections with each other. We can only be peacemakers by carefully following Christ’s lead.
Apart from Jesus, we were once left in a sorry state: separated, alienated, hopeless strangers— alone (Ephesians 2:11-12). “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (vs. 13-14).
Apart from Christ, all of life is war. We war within ourselves as we rebel against God’s best. We war against others as our sin sends shrapnel into one another’s hearts. The cross is the only bridge to true peace.
The beautiful message of the gospel is that Jesus Himself is our peace. The cross worked like a sledgehammer, tearing down the wall of hostility we erected with our own sin. He simply asks us to wave the white flag of surrender to His work of reconciliation.
This reminder gives us what we need to pursue reconciliation with others. The grace that has been lavished upon us gives us the strength to extend grace to others. We can forgive because we’ve been forgiven, pursue peace because we serve the Peacemaker, mend broken relationships because we’ve been stitched up with the thread of grace.
This process of pursuing reconciliation also gives us a taste of what’s to come; it’s a preview of an eternity marked with perfect peace. Hostility will end. Tears will dry. Apologies will become antiquated. Those of us who have surrendered our lives to the Peacemaker will be blessed indeed.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.