As Christians we hold two things in tension at all times: our desire to be known and to be loved and the knowledge that we are known and loved by God. The desire is good. To be human, to be God’s creation, is to desire relationship. A measure of our humanity is our capacity to connect with these desires. However, we too often turn to the wrong things to figure out how to receive that relationship. God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
The problem begins when we turn the desire to be known and loved into a demand. We try to control the places where we receive affirmation, and we try to avoid the places where we feel inadequate or rejected. A great example of this is social media, where we can take in what we want and mute what we don’t want. We control what others see of us, and receive only what is positive back. This demand (and the control that results from it) is the death of relationship. It is the dry cistern that never quenches thirst and never achieves what we hope it will.
The key, as it often is, is in the words of Jesus: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”(Matthew 5:9).
As children of God, we bring peace with us —peace that rests in the knowledge that we are known and loved by God. This peace allows us to let go of the demand and the control and to drink deeply of the relationship that flows from the spring of living water. This peace frees us from seeking justice for ourselves and drives us toward serving others. Jesus showed us this peace in action many times and in many ways. Let’s look at three instances.
First, and perhaps most difficult for us, Jesus showed us a peace in being falsely accused. Time and again, we see Jesus silent before His accusers. Action through inaction and peace in His relationship with the Father lead to silence before the people in His own hometown, silence before Pilate, and silence even on the cross. Too often we feel as though we have to defend ourselves and succeed only in driving the wedge deeper. The invitation here is to be willing to be sad in relationship, and trust that God is our defender.
Second, Jesus showed us peace in our fears. When the disciples were terrified in the storm, Jesus responds not by immediately calming the storm, but by asking, “Why are you so afraid?” (Mark 4:40). He invites them to have peace because He is there. Peace comes when Jesus is near. When we respond out of fear, when we panic and take things in our own hands, when we cry out in the storm, Jesus says, “Peace, I am near.”
Third, Jesus shows us peace in breaking social norms for the sake of the gospel. We see Jesus invite the children to Him, eat with the “sinners,” talk to the woman at the well, and touch the sick. He speaks with the people on the outside of society and invites them into relationship with Him. The result of this for Jesus is not “peace” and calm in His life, but rather accusation, notoriety and ultimately death on the cross. The faith that we have in Jesus, and the knowledge that we are known and loved, should invite us into these places just like Jesus.
Our relationships will always be in turmoil. Our world will always be broken. There are those who will always take advantage of the downtrodden, and use language to dehumanize those in need. We can bring peace into the turmoil and hope into the brokenness, but the beginning of that is believing we are known and loved by God. Receiving that peace and carrying it into the world is what identifies us as children of God.
In this issue, we continue our series on the Beatitudes with Matthew 5:9. Former Senior Editor Doug Newton returns to the magazine and writes about the best way to bring peace and social justice, Bishop David Roller invites us into examining our role as peacemakers, and Jada and Jon Swanson share the egalitarian view that promotes peace and equality in marriage. Read about John M. Perkins living the peacemaker’s life, receive Lexi Baysinger’s invitation to bring peace and truth to conversations about injustice, and don’t forget to check out original artwork for this issue by Trent Thompson.
Mark Crawford is Light + Life’s staff writer. He resides in Tucson, Arizona.
- Feature: Social Justice and the Path of Peacemaking
- Bishops: From Trolls to Peacemakers
- Action: John M. Perkins: A Peacemaker Blessing Others
- Discipleship: True Peacemaking or Precarious Peace?
- Pop Theology: Biblical Marriage: Leading and Serving Together
- News: Embrace All: Repenting, Repairing, Restoring
- News: Warm Beach Offers Retirement Living and Ministry Opportunities
- World: A Movement of Hope