This past weekend I had the pleasure of celebrating two wonderful friends becoming one in marriage. It was up in Minneapolis and, despite my best efforts, I got terribly lost and missed the wedding completely. My wonderful brother was kind enough to direct me via cell phone and internet, so I eventually made it… after a trip out to stillwater and a couple of scenic loops through Minneapolis.
I ended up watching the recording online last night. But despite missing the wedding, I was challenged by the groom’s father. He is a retired pastor from Puerto Rico who emanates wisdom and compassion. Not very many people have this quality; it is something of a strong gaze that seems to bore right into you, see you exactly as you are, and not flinch whatsoever. He spent some time talking with Chris topher who was in the wedding party and spent half of last week helping everyone get ready.
The challenge he gave Chris was one he gave his oldest son; read Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount) every day for two weeks. Now I know I’m not Chris topher, but when a retired pastor suggests a challenge like that, I can’t help but want to try it myself because there has to be a lot of merit to it. The man really leaves an impression that leaves one thinking.
As a result, this is day two of the challenge for me. I’m reading it in my HCS study Bible and loving a new look at a familiar passage. I’m going to try and post what I’m getting from the passage as it speaks to me. As much as this bothers my linear/chronological organization, I feel that it would be neglecting the Spirit to ignore what stuck out to me and stick to order. I will, however, try to make sure I cover all the verses at some point.
“The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.”
Peacemaker. It’s a simple enough word etymology that an English novice could pick it up. A peacemaker is someone who makes peace with others. Now, as much as we could think of our lives and consider those we talk to on a regular basis as being peaceful relations, I don’t think that’s the aim here.
Think of the people you actually have to work at making peace with. Is it a co-worker? A socially obnoxious friend? A family member? A roommate? Someone you are trying to minister to?
What makes peace with them difficult? Lately, I’ve been disturbed by my response to a situation involving someone with whom I have very fragile peace at best. Their attitude and actions make me angry. It makes me sick thinking about the kind of person they have demonstrated themselves to be. I can try to justify my feelings, but there’s no way around it; being angry toward someone is a sin.
The notes in the HCSB are also incredibly helpful for getting me to think a little more beyond the text. Here’s a little bit of the footnotes:
“The ministry of peacemaking involves resolving conflict by making prompt apologies and acts of restitution, refusing to seek revenge, and humbly loving and serving one’s enemies (5:21-26, 38-41, 43-48). The promise that peacemakers will be called sons of God probably means that Jesus’ authentic disciples emulate God by undertaking the ministry of reconciliation. Thus at the final judgment they shall be accepted as the sons (and daughters) of God.”
Prompt apologies, acts of restitution, refusing to seek revenge, humbly loving and serving one’s enemies.
Is this how you treat those who have hurt you or seem to be your enemies?
Is there anyone in your life with whom you refuse to make peace?
I keep thinking of later in the passage, verses 43-46, “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors [AKA non-Christ followers/average joes/anyone really] do the same?”
If it is in your power at all, make peace with everyone (think Romans 12:18-21).
Reject what your instinct is, and love as you have been loved. And if you have not experienced the kind of love that is big enough to make others’ offenses seem small, then I pray you will ask God to show you His love and seek it through prayer and studying the Bible.
God, please grant me the grace to love others even when I am struggling with it. Help me to see people the way that You see people. I pray that I will never harden my heart against others, but will actively seek Your power to enable me to overcome the hurtful thoughts and behavior I so often desire. I love You. Thank you for all You have given me.