Blessed are the Peacemakers

1 Peter 4:8

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

There is no denying that we are living in a time of unrest. People become afraid, and fear produces anger and hatred. However, Christians are called to look beyond the circumstances they face, and draw strength from our faith and the Lord, whom our faith is founded upon.

The Christian is called to live in rest, but when circumstances are threatening, it is easy to have our minds drawn out of rest, and then take the burden upon ourselves that we were never intended to carry. What’s more is that when we try to work, it becomes an act of the human flesh, which is always opposed to the work of God.

We can see this clearly through the responses that many well-meaning Christians, who try to fight for what they believe, but instead of resolving the problem, they begin adding to it. There is an old country saying, “Don’t wrestle with a pig in the mud. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

The world likes living in hate, spreading hate, and justifying hate. Sadly, I have seen many of my Christian friends joining the problem instead of living by a higher standard. Scripture teaches us that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are mighty in God. When a man or woman of faith forgets this, they step outside of God’s power, and are operating solely in the flesh, where there is no true power.

When the world around us is caught up in chaos, it is the opportunity for the world to see the difference between the world and the life of faith. The problem is that when a Christian does not believe God will do, we push Him aside and try to do for ourselves. Then instead of creating good, we add to the madness.

Consider the world’s reaction to the racial unrest we see today. Though there have been several incidents that built the tension, the trigger point was a corrupt police officer pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck until he passed out, and eventually died. Nearly everyone was outraged at the clear abuse of power, and willful murder of a man handcuffed and powerless. It was the last straw for many in the black community, so this triggered violent reactions across this nation.

Soon after, videos began to surface of white people being assaulted. Some claimed it was justified because people are angry, even though those being assaulted were not involved in the assault of Floyd or any other incident. The other day, a video was posted online of a black man and his daughter with their car being surrounded by a group of white wannabe vigilantes, who singled them out only because of their race.

Both sides are escalating the problem and feel justified in this behavior because they are afraid, angry, and feel they need to retaliate for the wrongs they perceive the ‘other side’ is doing.

That’s the world’s way. But should this be the church’s way? On social media, I have black friends posting perpetual anger and even encouraging their black friends to join the fight. I have white friends who post about injustice and brag about arming themselves and preparing to fight. What’s worse is that these are coming from people who are Christians. They post Bible verses one moment, and follow it with very anti-Christian hate speech.

Being a Christian does not mean that we do nothing. The question is, what is the ‘something’ we are supposed to be doing? Rarely does the world witness someone who believes God and is willing to stand up as a witness instead of as a party to the problem. God does not use rage, violence, and hate to accomplish His purpose. He uses faith founded upon His love.

Consider the legacy of Martin Luther King. How many words of hatred and violence did he deliver in his speeches and protests? Not once did he preach violence and hate. He truly believed in the Lord and stood upon his faith. No person in American history accomplished more than he did, and he did it on the platform of returning love for hate. And Martin Luther King lived in an era of violence, segregation, racism, and unrest. He showed the world the difference between the voice of hatred and the call of love. Because of this, he accomplished more than any who came before him or since.

According to the Bible, the enemy came to kill, steal, and destroy. All we must do is look at the result of our actions and ask, are we promoting the enemy? Or are we walking by faith. Faith and love build up and edify. Fear and hatred destroy.

God uses opportunities like these to show the world the difference between the life of faith and the world.

As Christians, we can’t take it out of God’s hands and expect positive results. According to Romans 12:21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The real question to the Christian is, do you believe God? Do you really believe in the life of Christ as you claim? Or do you trust in yourself, hatred, and discord? You can only trust in one side. If you are in Christ, He gives clear instructions on how to respond to the world’s ways. Look at Luke 6:27-28

 27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
 28 “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

Romans 12:14

 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Do you believe God. Do you believe that love can overcome a multitude of sins? The Bible says that when we do good to those who hate us, it heaps coals of fire on their heads. Hatred heaps the coals on our own heads. Not only that, if we can’t bless our enemies, then God will not bless us or our efforts. Yet according to Jesus, when we put our trust in Him, not only does He transform the world around us, but He greatly blesses us. Look at Luke 6:35

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

The evidence that you are sons of God is shown by your love. Anyone can love their friends, but only those born of God can love their enemies and transform the culture around us. Just as by one man’s action, chaos spread to many. By one believing Christian, peace can take root in many.

Are you a son of God, or a child of disobedience? In case you are unaware, the Bible uses ‘son’ as a position of inheritance. Jesus made it clear that in God’s kingdom, there isn’t male or female. We are all sons, kings, and priests. It is not based on gender, but faith.

As a son, you inherit God’s reward. As a priest, you are the minister to the world around you. As a king, you carry the authority of God within you. A child of the kingdom does not get drawn into the chaos and join the world’s methods of fighting. A child of God stands in rest, knowing that they have the authority to be the change in the world, influence the culture, and become a blessing that shines as a light to the world.

Or we can toss aside our royal priesthood and become lost in the crowd of the world, living like the world, acting like the world, and showing no difference between us and those who trust in the methods that destroy. A Christian who acts just like those who have no hope also has no positive influence.

We have many examples for us in scripture. Each time someone takes things out of God’s hands, it causes grief and hardship. However, those who wait on God and walk by faith ALWAYS see God do great things.

When people become fearful or anxious, this is either overcome by praying and waiting on the Lord, or they put their trust in fear and step out of God’s plan and never see His salvation. When God doesn’t act on our time expectations, this is a test of whether we trust in Him or our timeline. Those who turn aside never experience the power God was preparing for them to experience.

Those who wait patiently and rest in the storm will never be put to shame. The question is, do you really believe God? If so, you will found every decision on faith, hope, and love. And as the Bible states, the greatest of these is love. Love overcomes fear. Love overcomes sin. Love overcomes hate. However, we must allow love to work in us first, and then through us. Your greatest battle is not allowing yourself to be drawn away from His love. You must be drawn away from God before you can be drawn into the chaos.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Not only is it the Christian’s responsibility to avoid being drawn into the world’s battles, it is our ministry to become peacemakers and instruments of healing.

Ephesians 6:10-13

 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

We are called to stand, not wrestle against flesh and blood. We are called out of the world. Live like a citizen of heaven. Love your enemies, don’t join them in the mud.

Goodwill toward men

In the coming weeks, I’ll be starting a series of articles about understanding grace and what that means in the accepted-in the belovedChristian’s life. Or if you are not a Christian, this will be a good opportunity to understand what the Bible means when it speaks of grace.

There is a reason why the gospel is called, ‘The good news.’ In fact, that is what the word ‘gospel’ means. The Greek word ‘euaggelion’, which we translate as ‘gospel’, means: good tidings, or the glad tidings of God. This is not what most people think of when they hear about the gospel. Most people think of the gospel as condemnation that makes us feel guilty. This is partly because some traditional beliefs are that people must be shamed into coming to the altar, then they try to unload their guilt by penance or repentance.

The Bible says that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world was already under condemnation and He came to proclaim God’s acceptance. At Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:14, the angels announced his coming to the shepherds in the field with these words, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

The word translated into goodwill literally means, to have pleasure, take delight, or have kind benevolence toward someone. When the law stood as man’s condemnation, guilt separated mankind from God, but Jesus came to fulfill the law and give good gifts to men (Ephesians 4:8). The angels announced the beginning of this new work of God at His birth.

When someone is stuck in the old covenant (the law of the Old Testament), they are prevented from seeing the gift of Christ. The Bible also states this by explaining that those who focus on the scriptures of the law have a veil over their hearts. That veil remains in the reading of the Old Testament, but that veil is removed in Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:13-16)

Contrary to what many still teach today, Jesus did not come to proclaim our guilt under the law. The law itself proclaims our guilt. Jesus came to set us free from the law and proclaim the acceptance of God. Look at Luke 4:17-21

17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus made it clear that His life is the fulfillment of this promise found in the Old Testament. Though the Old Testament was founded upon the law, all the promises pointed to Christ. In a future article we’ll look at what the Bible says was the purpose of Old Testament law. For now, let’s focus on the passing of the law. I understand many will argue against this idea saying the Law will never pass away, but these two passages clearly teach the Old Covenant passes away in Christ:

2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Hebrews 8:13

A new covenant of grace is born in Christ. As we move forward, we’ll look at scriptures that explain how the Old Covenant can be eternal, yet still pass away for those who are in Christ. For you, the good news is that in the past, you were under condemnation. In fact, any who are outside of Christ are still under the Old Covenant and are under its penalties. But the good news is that in Christ, the veil of our blindness is removed, and the new life of the Spirit is revealed. That is when you see the truth of the above passage, “The acceptable year of the Lord.”

The promise revealed in the Old Testament, read by Jesus in the New Testament, and proclaimed by the angels at His birth is the same – now God takes pleasure in showing His good will toward man. The condemnation has been taken out of the way, and you are accepted by God through Christ. No more condemnation – just peace with God and an eternal hope that you can rest your assurance upon.

Eddie Snipes 2013