The Art of Peace {Listening to the Beatitudes}

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” ~Matthew 5:9

I’m not a fan of phony.

It’s not so bad at first. I mean who doesn’t like a few minutes of pretending we’re best of friends. Putting on smiles like we really enjoy one another. But then the whispers from yesterday’s shadows come into today’s light and the insincerity betrays the pretense.

Real might be ugly, uncomfortable, and threatening.  Yet, it’s real—it can move and bend and grow.

Phony can’t, you know. Like hard plastic, it is stagnate, confirmed; to flex would be to break.  One must be careful not to stand too close to another’s fragile persona. If you break it, the truth may get leaked out. Don’t you think this is part of why the Pharisees were so enraged with Jesus—He kept dissing their distinguished robes as nothing but filthy rags? Pharisees of all ages are willing to settle for a cold war, and call it ‘peace’ if it will keep the enemy of their persona at arm’s length distance.

We humans have made an art form of phoniness. Sadly, its grandest masterpiece displays itself in our attempts to protect the peace with our carefully strung together lies and half-truths about ourselves.  It’s so much easier to fake peace than to face truth.

Bonhoeffer said there can be no peace without truth.

Settling for fake peace is nothing new. The prophet Jeremiah around 600 B.C. saw it. “From the least to the greatest, 
all are greedy for gain; 
prophets and priests alike, 
all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 
‘Peace, peace,’ they say, 
when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” (Jeremiah 6:13-15)

But then there’s the cross, where God faces the truth about us. And He does something. Something to expose the truth and quiet the lies. He put His whole reputation on the line, so we could stop hiding behind “peace, peace,” that is really no peace at all. At the cross every heart spills out its hate and war on Jesus, and He says to it, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

If we listen carefully to this beatitude, we’ll hear Jesus saying,Keep reminding people of the peace you’ve received from me by the way you live it out in your life. Don’t just talk about it. Don’t fake it. My peace is real, so also should be yours.” Peacemaking should be the Christian’s art and truth its canvas.

How do you create this art? “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:17-18) We do so with God’s wisdom. I wonder how many relationships remain broken because we just think we’re so right in our own eyes? If ‘rightness’ is the qualifier for initiating peace then there would be no cross. Jesus was right, completely right…and yet for our sakes demonstrated mercy.

Maybe we shy away from the act of peacemaking because it puts so much on the line. Scripture doesn’t give us the guarantee that our attempts at peacemaking make our own lives more calm or comfortable. In fact, in this Sermon on the Mount Jesus takes three extra phrases to explain the likely result of acting in truth for the sake of peace—persecution (v. 10), insults (v. 11), and falsely accused (11).  Real peace is as costly now as it was back at Calvary. Bonhoeffer knew this, too. Do we?

For they shall be called sons {and daughters} of God.” There it is–peacemaking is a paternal test of sorts. It’s you acting like your Father. He didn’t just talk about bringing peace. He didn’t sweep the need for peace under the carpet. He didn’t pretend that it already existed. He actually came and made peace.

This beatitude begs us to ask ourselves if we will too? And not just with the hand-picked group we’ve selected to love…the ones who are easy to love and always seem to love us back in the way we like. The ones who don’t get too close to your persona. No, not those ones, but the ones who most likely will respond by persecuting, insulting, and falsely accusing. The ones that will put our reputations on the line.

Are you a child of God? What half-truth or fake smile betrays that reality? Who are you not at peace with today—how can you step toward them with truth? What will you do to reveal God’s peace today?

3 thoughts on “The Art of Peace {Listening to the Beatitudes}

  1. Ahhhh, you’re back. I was getting a little antsy. Can I say that your insights, your wisdom, they are like the foghorn on a lighthouse sometimes. Loud, clear, and simultaneously a warning and a security blanket. My life gets misty..and somedays even thick with the fog of well, life. I cherish your words because you take scripture and shout it out in “truth way” that says…Listen here, Follow, Don’t be afraid, but don’t be stupid either, because there is both a safe harbor AND jagged rocks ahead. Aim for the harbor.

    Thanks for being a foghorn in my life.

    • Well, now there will need to be a storybook written about the weepy foghorn. Thanks for your kind words and the tears they prompted. Writing is such a strange process for me because I never think of myself as a writer….but when I read the Word its truth just rattles around in my head and somehow the writing helps the Word get down deeper into the “now go live it” kind of way. It’s encouraging to hear that you find it of benefit. We need that kind of encouragement from one another, don’t we? I’m so thankful God did not leave us alone to figure out how to safely traverse the harbor, but instead gives us guidance from His Spirit and the company of friends. You are a treasure, Kat! If I am foghorn, you are a softly lit lamp of welcoming grace beckoning a weary traveler to come and sit awhile.

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