“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.
Jesus didn’t often speak in terms of His followers as children of God. In Matthew 5:44-48, He said: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves to 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? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (NASB).
The common language of “children of God” in both passages indicates a connection. In both, His followers are to be peacemakers, and they are to love their enemies and pray for those persecuting them.
Further, 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.
Peacemaking, then, is not running around crying out for peace; it’s loving those who hate us. It’s aiming to reflect God’s perfection. And as Jesus said in Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
We hear the term “peacemaker” and think about the making of peace between people; but within the world of ancient Judaism, peacemaking involved a three-way relationship between one person, another person, and God.
For instance, charity and good deeds are actions we do for others, which also makes a pathway toward peace between people and God.
How we treat those around us who are also made in God’s image impacts our relationship with God.
At the same time, loving others helps to unleash God’s redemptive power in the world. Actions of love and charity for our enemies open a way to make peace between God and humanity.
We hear cries for peace throughout our world, yet 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 this, we show that we are indeed 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.