When was the last time you met someone and thought to yourself that you knew them, yet they were far too young to be the person you first thought they were? Recently we had a young man visit us at the church where I preach and when I saw him, I immediately thought, “He sure looks familiar” yet I knew I didn’t really know him. But he looked a ton like a man I’ve known for years and even more like this man’s son that I have known for less years, but still for some time. When he came out after the worship time and greeted me with a huge smile, he introduced himself and said his granddad had told him to look for me and tell me who he was. Suddenly, it made all kinds of sense why he looked familiar, even though I hadn’t known him before at all. He looked so much like his dad and granddad that it was uncanny. His smile was so much like his granddads smile that it was amazing.
This reminds me of Jesus’ statement “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Probably many of the people in the crowd that day would have thought the whole idea of being a peacemaker was strange in a time when they were under Roman control. If they looked around and saw Roman soldiers marching through the streets like they owned the place and often mistreating the people who had lived there all their lives, it would feel more natural to hear the teacher say, “Blessed are the warriors who will go out and fight the enemies of Israel to deliver us from the Roman powers.” I wonder if Simon the Zealot was in the crowd that day. Jesus would later choose him to be one of the twelve ambassadors for his kingdom. Yet a Zealot was a hater of Rome who wanted to see and be a part of the overthrow of their empire. If he was, it must have moved him to degree that he would change his loyalty, even though as an apostle he still wore the title of Simon the Zealot. If you think about the land of Israel where they were, there has never been a time when they had peace for an extended period. It has always been the case that there were enemies who wished to destroy them as a nation. But the environment didn’t change the fundamental principles of God on how we should live.
Peace is so tied to God that he is called the God of peace, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace and the message of Christ is called the Gospel of peace. When we have the Holy Spirit in our lives, one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Paul said in Romans 14:17-19, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” When James the Lord’s brother wrote the book that bares his name he explained that the wisdom that comes from above is first of all peaceable.
But how are those who follow Christ to be peacemakers in the world? It has never been the case that peace was obtained through political or military means. There can’t be peace among people when the people are at war with themselves or with God. There must be an inner peace before it can be passed on to others. In the world it seems that people think that the way to peace is either more policemen or to take away all the weapons in the world so that they can’t hurt each other. But as long as Satan reigns in the hearts of people there will be war, murder, and all types of abuse among the people. Think of the fact the first murder that took place in the world was Cain killing his brother Abel when there were no weapons as we would know them. But hate, jealousy and envy can lead to the efforts to destroy those whom we blame for our problems whether there are mighty weapons or simply a rock we can pick up in the yard. Strangely, the religions of the world often plant the hatred into the hearts of those who follow them, for anyone that doesn’t accept their beliefs as the only right way.
No matter how many times people who kill and hurt others, immediately afterward cry out the name of God, you can be certain they aren’t following the one God described in the teachings of Jesus. He is the one that made the law to begin with that whoever sheds a person’s blood would have their blood shed by other people. Jesus would turn the tables completely around by saying to us to love those who hate us and do good to those who spitefully use us. He challenged us to pray for our enemies and be like the Father in heaven who sends his rain and sunshine on the good and evil.
If I want to be blessed by the Lord, then I must be one that is a peacemaker in the world. But how? The best way in the world to produce peace among people is to share with them the gospel of peace. That Gospel or good news of Jesus and His kingdom is powerful and can drive the sin from our lives to give us peace with God and peace in our own lives. Paul described this change in us as being reconciled to God to becoming his friends all over again. He then said that those who are reconciled to God are given a ministry of reconciliation to carry that same good news to others. When we tell them of Jesus and his great invitation to “Come unto me all who are weary and burdened down and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn of me for I am gentle and lowly of heart and you will find rest unto your soul for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When we become such peacemakers among people, we are blessed by looking like God and are then called the “children of God.” I’ve had people say to me “you look like your dad” or “you look like your granddad.” The truth is that I don’t think I look physically much like either one but likely have habits and expressions that remind them of either. When we do the job of carrying the gospel of peace to the world, we look like the Lord. What an amazing blessing it is to be seen as God’s child in the world.