"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Mt 5:9 ESV
"You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family." Mt 5:9 MSG
"Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God." Mt. 5:9 AMP
I've been thinking about this verse a lot lately. I recently read an article that digs deep into its meaning. One quote said...
"Peacemaking tries to build bridges to people. It does not want the animosity to remain. It wants reconciliation. It wants harmony. And so it tries to show what may be the only courtesy the enemy will tolerate, namely, a greeting. The peacemaker looks the enemy right in the eye and says, "Good morning, John." And he says it with a longing for peace in his heart, not with a phony gloss of politeness to cover his anger."
The rhetoric in America right now is divisive and filled with anger, hate, hurt. We are so easily becoming hypocrites in our words and social media posts, not because we mean to, but because we stopped listening to people. We stopped caring about people.
You care about people, I know you do. I'm not trying to hurt your feelings. But can we take a moment to really look at our words and actions and those social media posts and assess how caring they really are, how caring they might seem to someone who doesn't know you personally and doesn't have enough relationship with you to give you the benefit of the doubt? (That last part is mostly about the social media stuff because we all need to be adult enough to realize that not everyone you are friends with on social media really knows you or your heart, so you can't just assume that because you also post about loving Jesus that they will feel the love in everything else you post.)
Anyway, my heart has been hurting. Not because the country I love, and I do love it, is in turmoil, but because people are hurting. People are oppressed and broken and scared and we stopped caring about that and started caring more about political agendas.
I don't care about your political ideology, right, left, red or blue. I don't want to debate about whether or not "taking a knee" is disrespectful or offensive. I am not telling you not to stand up for your beliefs or even to stop sharing your opinions.
But for the love of God, and people, can we please stop shouting it so loudly that the cries of the broken and oppressed and hurting and scared are drowned out? Can we please take as much time to listen to a differing opinion as we do in sharing ours? (And by listen I mean actually listen, not just hear and then get defensive.) If you want to talk about standing for a flag, go ahead, but speak just as loudly (and often) about the need for racial equality. If you want to defend the lives of the unborn offer help to women in need. If you want to fight terrorism, start by loving your Muslim neighbor as Jesus would want you to. (He ate with sinners remember.) Have your beliefs and convictions but don't forget about the humans, the ones created in the image of your God, on the other side. You don't get to ignore their humanity, their need, their pain because of your own. We can't say we love our neighbor, that we care about people unless it extends beyond our thoughts and into our actions.
I repeat my earlier statement, I love my country. I love Jesus more. Let me just put it out there for you, I am a Jesus- follower before I am an American. So, as much as I love this country, I will not put it above obedience to Christ and his commandments. What are those?
"...and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’ 31 This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] [a]love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 AMP
My neighbors aren't just my neighbors either, they are my co-workers, my classmates, my President, politicians, journalists, NFL players, my friends and my enemies. Loving them doesn't mean agreeing with them. If you don't then don't, but do take to heart how you disagree with them. Think of the words you are using, are they dehumanizing, hate or fear fueled...or are they kind and compassionate? After all it is His kindness that leads us to repentance and we are vehicles of the kindness of our Father for others to come to know Him.
That is most important. The Gospel of peace, the hope we all have in Christ is our primary directive as believers. Your politics must take a back seat to the Great Commission. It is not enough to have a "Biblical world view" if you don't treat others with a Biblical love.
That article continues with...
"So we pray and we take whatever practical initiatives we can to make peace beginning with something as simple as a greeting. But we do not always succeed. And I want to make sure you don't equate peacemaking with peace-achieving. A peacemaker longs for peace, and works for peace, and sacrifices for peace. But the attainment of peace may not come. Romans 12:18 is very important at this point. There Paul says, "If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all." That is the goal of a peacemaker: "If possible, so far as it depends on you . . . " Don't let the rupture in the relationship be your fault."
As peace makers we can't close our eyes to injustice (any injustice), we can't be distracted by shallow issues that will never be as important as people's souls. We can't justify ourselves by what was or what is, or who is president, or who was president, any longer. We have to make God and His Word most important. We have to make being a Jesus-follower and leading others to Jesus priority, the thing that colors every other thing we say and do and believe. We have to find the balance between stating our opinions and merely adding to the hateful noise. Let's choose the battles that rescue people from pain and brokenness and introduce them to a Savior who cares so very deeply for them that He gave up all His rights to die for them. He didn't wait for them to agree, and neither should we.
Here's one last excerpt from that article...
"When Jesus spoke of enemies, why did he confine himself to prayer and personal greetings and blessings and individual deeds of generosity and kindness? Why didn't he talk about the issues of national humiliation, and Roman oppression, and political corruption, and the unbridled militarism of his day? Was he utterly out of touch with the big issues of his day? No. There is another explanation for why he preaches the way he does. In Luke 13:1–5 some people confronted Jesus with one of Pilate's atrocities. Here's the way he responded: "There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." He took a major social outrage of injustice and turned it into a demand for personal, individual repentance. "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish!" That's what he always did. Why did he do this? Because for Jesus the eternal destiny of a human soul is a weightier matter, a bigger issue, than the temporal destiny of a nation."