“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9 NIV).
Jesus expected His followers to be instruments of peacemaking. Those who do so, according to Jesus, will be called children of God. For Jesus, the peacemaking efforts of His followers is the condition for them being children of God.
Jesus didn’t often speak in terms of His followers as children of God. He did so in only one other instance: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:44-48 NASB).
The common language of “children of God” in both passages indicates a connection between the two passages. In both passages, the efforts of His followers make them children of God: They are peacemakers, and they love their enemies and pray for those persecuting them. The passage of Matthew 5:44-48 defines what Jesus meant by being a peacemaker. It’s not about brokering peace agreements between parties in conflict; rather, it’s demonstrating love for enemies and praying for those persecuting you. This makes one a child of their Father in heaven.
Peacemaking, then, is not running around crying out for peace; it’s loving those who hate us. It’s being perfect (merciful: see Luke 6:36) as our Father in heaven is perfect.
We hear the term “peacemaker” and think about the making of peace between people, but within the world of ancient Judaism and the early church, peacemaking involved a three-way relationship between one person, another person, and God.
For instance, charity and good deeds are actions we do to and for others, like loving those who hate us and praying for those who persecute us. These actions toward others, however, make peace between humanity and God.
How we treat those made in God’s image impacts our relationship with God. At the same time, behaving toward others like this unleashes God’s redemptive power within the world. Actions of love and charity for our enemies opens a way to make peace between God and humanity.
We hear cries for peace throughout our world. Peace does not come from bringing an end to the conflict. Peace comes when the followers of Jesus love those who hate us and model that for the world to see. When we do that, we show that we are children of our Father in heaven.
Father, strengthen us to show love toward those who hate us. Through our love for them, build a path of reconciliation between us. Amen.