God’s Priorities for His Churches: Peace (4)
Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3.18
“Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5.9
By peacemakers he means those who not only seek peace and avoid quarrels, as far as lies in their power, but who also labor to settle differences among others, who advise all men to live at peace, and take away every occasion of hatred and strife… That we may not depend on the favor of men, Christ bids us look up to the judgment of his Father, who is the God of peace, (Romans 15:33,) and who accounts us his children, while we cultivate peace, though our endeavors may not be acceptable to men…
- Calvin, Commentary on Matthew 5.9
The followers of Christ are instructed to think of themselves as peacemakers. Since peace is the blessed condition that characterizes the Kingdom of God (Rom. 14.17, 18), it makes sense that where Kingdom citizens live and work and have their being, there peace should be a prominent feature of the environment.
I am reminded of the PeanutsTM character, Pig Pen, who everywhere he went brought with him a cloud of dust. Even in the dead of winter, in the midst of snow and wind, where Pig Pen went, dust emanated from him and filled the space around him – the trademark of his presence.
Just so, Christians are to be people of peace, people who know peace, speak peace, and bring peace wherever they go. The world may fret and fume, but Christians remain at peace, and they seek the peace of those places and that community to which God sends them day by day (Jer. 29.7). Peace is the great gift that Jesus brings to the world (Lk. 2.14), that He bestows on His followers (Jn. 14.27), and that He calls us to bring to troubled souls and situations wherever we go.
It makes sense, therefore, that cultivating peace and peacemaking should feature large in the local church’s work of making disciples.
The importance of peace
It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of knowing peace – with God, within ourselves, and with those around us.
Peace is the fruit of prayer, and vanquishes all anxiousness and fear (Phil. 4.6, 7).
Peace allows us to live without resentment or wrath, even when others may treat us scornfully (Rom. 12.18, 19).
Peace trails along with good works as a primary fruit of self-denial and sacrificial service (Rom. 2.10).
Peace indicates a mind settled on spiritual truths and focused on true spiritual living (Rom. 8.6).
Peace is the avenue along which we edify one another in the Lord (Rom. 14.19).
To live in peace declares us to be true children of the God of peace and agents of His realm (1 Cor. 14.33; Rom. 14.17, 18).
Peace indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit, working according to God’s good pleasure in us (Gal. 5.22).
Peace validates the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and shows that we participate in His glorious life from the dead (Eph. 2.14).
Peace is the substance of our message to the world (Eph. 2.17).
Peace is what God has called us to, the emblem and trademark of our participation in His Kingdom (Col. 3.15).
Thus peace is a primary condition to pursue as those who call on the Name of the Lord (2 Tim. 2.22; Heb. 12.14).
And since peace issues from a life increasing in the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Jms. 3.18), it is proof of our discipleship, and confirmation that we belong to Him.
Make disciples, make peacemakers
Gaining, entering, dwelling within, sharing, and seeking the peace that passes understanding must feature large in our work of making disciples. We have nothing to offer the world but the peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we know this peace, are abidingand growing in it, that we understand how to bring the peace of Jesus to the troubles and trials of our earthly existence, and are faithful in proclaiming peace to the people to whom God sends us each day.
When peace fills us, exudes from us, results from our efforts, and embraces others – when peace is to us as dust is to Pig Pen – the world will know that we inhabit a realm that exists above and beyond, even within and throughout, this sad and peace-deprived world.
It makes sense, therefore, that making peacemaking disciples should be a high priority for any healthy, growing church.
How can you realize your vision?
It’s one thing to get excited about serving the Lord, or taking on a new project, or longing to grow in Jesus and His Kingdom. It’s another thing to get busy at pursuing such high callings. A simple plan can get you off the dime and moving in the direction of greater fruitfulness for the Lord. Watch this brief videothat features “A Template for Planning.” Download the PDF and use it to number your days and discern the Lord’s work for all the visions and projects of your life.
Prayer for Revival: A Jonathan Edwards Reader
“The peacemaker is the one who demonstrates the harmony of the Scriptures, where others see only a contradiction: the Old with the New, the law with the prophets, Gospel with Gospel. Accordingly, having imitated the Son of God, ‘he shall be called a son,’ having by his work grasped of the ‘spirit of adoption.’”
- Cyril of Alexandria, Fragment 38
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T. M. Moore
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from Church fathers are from The Ancient Christian Commentary Series (InterVarsity Press).