“Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.”

~Matthew 5:9

Soon after President John F. Kennedy was in office, he initiated what many believe was his greatest accomplishment in the establishment of the Peace Corps. On October 14, 1960, at 2:00 AM, on the doorsteps of the University of Michigan, before a crowd of 5,000 students, presidential candidate Kennedy defined the Peace Corp.

The moment was electrifying.

From every walk of life, from every social stratum, men, women, and young people captured sight of the concept of reaching out to help others around the globe. Their dreams came true in 1961 when the Peace Corp was legally established. From the prosperous shores of America, to the poverty-stricken hamlets of foreign countries, Peace Corp volunteers have gone to invest their lives in redeeming a portion of desperate humanity. The members of the Peace Corps have helped to support the people of societies who want to obey the laws of the land.

“There is a blessing,” said Jesus, for “peacemakers.” They are favored by God.

On September 17, 1978, when President Jimmy Carter was able to get the Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, and the Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, to sign the Camp David Peace Accord, the world stood up and applauded the efforts of all parties involved. At the signing of the agreement between Egypt and Israel, President Carter quoted the words of Jesus, saying to a worldwide audience:

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

On September 13, 1993, when the “Declaration of Principles” was signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Oslo, Norway, the world marveled at the peace initiatives.

It was time for the bloodshed and violence to stop in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, there are countless people in the various nations who do not want peace. Men like Napoleon, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Sadam Hussein, Vladimir Putin, and, the leaders of the military industrial complex here in the United States, are determined to wage war, death, and destruction on their fellow man. War is waged for a variety of reasons. Eight main causes of war are easily identified.

Economic Gain. War is good for business, provided the fighting is done elsewhere.

Territorial Gain. The current war in the Ukraine is predicated on restoring the Soviet Empire to its former glory.

Religion. Islamic Fundamentalism is committed to jihad, or fighting a “holy” war in order to honor their blood thirsty god, Allah.

Nationalism. For many years the guiding philosophy that kept the Vietnam War going was national pride. Lyndon Johnson said, “I will not be the first American president to lose a war.”

Revenge. World War I was started, in part, to avenge the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a teenage national Serbian.

Civil War. The American Civil war pitted the North against the South, and brother against brother, in a war to end slavery.

Revolutionary War. The Battle Cry for Freedom is the impetus for many wars of revolution.

Defensive War. World War II began, for America, when the Japanese attacked Peal Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Today, in the year 2023, 29 countries are officially engaged in some type of internal or external conflict. Each year tens of thousands of people die, or, are wounded, by being in a war zone.  

In addition to the official killings of the world, there are violent acts of individual criminals who engage in breaking the peace and stability of society. It seems as if each crime wave is worse than the last.

At 9:57 AM on Monday, March 27, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee, three children and three adults were killed in a rampage at the Presbyterian, Covenant Christian School. A 28-year-old former student and sexually perverted woman named Audrey Elizabeth Hale shot her way into the school before being killed by the police. The peace of a safe workplace, the peace of family life is being shattered forever by many today due to the senseless actions of evil individuals.

The world has always been a vicious and barbaric place, due to the Fall. During the days of Jesus, public executions were a common sight. Hands of thieves were cut off. Backs of slaves were ripped apart. There was the painful death by crucifixion. History speaks about the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome, but it was a bloody and violent peace, maintained by ruthless rulers. The Jews of Israel hated this imposed “peace,” and some, called Zealots, fought back.

As Jesus looked at society, He saw the unsettled peace. Jesus knew all about the religious fever of the zealous Zionists who would butcher a Roman in a minute. Jesus personally called one of these radical people to be his disciple. In the Bible his name is Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13).

Jesus knows the heart, and how by nature individuals wage war, justified or not, upon others.

Jesus essentially said,

“The violence must stop. Individuals must put down their weapons of destruction and become peacemakers. Those who do this, will receive the favor of God.”

For a person to be a peacemaker, they must first have peace in their own heart. The Bible speaks about three types of peace every person can know.

There is peace with God.

Peace with God comes when a person lays down their arms of rebellion, and bows before Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is done by faith.

“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

In the ancient world, when a debt was paid, a large X, the Greek letter for chi, was placed on the document of a debt paid in full. The letter chi became a symbol of the Cross. At the Cross Jesus took our debt, and stamped X on it, blotting out the debt against us. It was stamped with an X, meaning, legally, “Paid in full.”  Christ has, for us who believe, cancelled our debt against God.

God is both just, and the Justifier of sinners. He does not ignore our debt. Rather, God gives us a Substitute to pay our debt. Herein is the glory of the Cross, and there is peace with God.

There is the peace from God.

Because life can be overwhelming, Christians need the peace that has its origin in the Eternal One.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

The peace the world gives is a lying peace. It promises satisfaction and contentment if a specific act of evil is done.  

“There is no peace, says the Lord, unto to the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22).

The peace the world gives is a temporary peace, both personally and politically. When World War I began, Germany violated Belgian’s neutrality in August 1914. When England declared war on Germany, the German Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg (1856–1921), said the English were foolishly going to war to defend “a scrap of paper.” The peace treaty meant nothing.

The peace the world offers is a self-centered peace predicated on the will to power. “Do what I say, and you will have peace,” says those who are in the world.

In contrast, the peace that comes from God is pure, reasonable, and it is rooted in disinterested love. In Philippians 4:7, and Colossians 3:15, the Bible speaks about the peace of God. It has some distinct features.

The peace of God surpasses all human understanding. Who can explain the calmness of Jesus before Pilate, the wisdom of Stephen before the Sanhedrin, or Peter and Silas singing songs of praise at midnight, after being beaten for their faith?

The peace of God acts as a garrison to guard the mind from despair, suicidal thoughts, uncontrollable rage, jealousy, envy, or evil imaginations.

The peace of God finds its foundation in Jesus Christ.

For a person to be a peacemaker they must have a Leader of Peace.

India had Ghandi.

America had Martin Luther King, Jr.

But Jesus is the Prince of Peace according to Isaiah 9:6.

It is a wonderful thought to realize that God is a God of peace.

Many people think of God as the God of wrath and judgment, and that is not incorrect. God is a just God. He is absolute righteousness, and will by no means clear the guilty. However, the intent of God is to promote peace. Peace is what characterized eternity past, and peace is what will characterize eternity future. People who want to die will often say,

“I just want to have peace from physical pain, and, mental anguish.”

Some look for this peace in eternity.

It was not God that violated the peaceful existence of the universe, but His creation. The Bible teaches that Lucifer violated the peace in heaven when he waged war against the Most High. On earth, it was Adam who first declared his hostility toward God through disobedience.

Today, like Lucifer, and like the First Adam, many individuals look at heaven, and spit. Ugly, foolish, fallen individuals think within their hearts they can destroy God by denying His existence.

In a speech before the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev mockingly said,

“Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any God there.”

The reference was to Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (b. March 9, 1934 – March 27, 1968), a Soviet pilot, and the first Russian cosmonaut. Gagarin was launched into space on April 12, 1961, and made one orbit of Earth in his capsule, Vostok (East).

There is a widespread belief that Gagarin made the infamous remark, but that is probably an urban myth. Gagarin had been baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church as a child. As an adult he baptized his elder daughter Yelena shortly before his space flight. His whole family celebrated Christmas and Easter and kept icons in the house (Foma magazine article, 2011). It seems unlikely Gagarin would make an offensive remark against God.

However, whether Gagarin, or Khrushchev, made the mocking retort, the truth is that God is not intimidated by all the carnal weapons of warfare that has been launched against Him. Despite the philosophies of atheism, polytheism, materialism, and pantheism, God is still God, at peace with Himself, and desiring to have peace with many. For this reason, Jesus came into the world, to preach the gospel of peace.

Those who unite with Jesus in being a peacemaker, by telling others how they can have peace with God, peace from God, and the peace of God, shall be called the children of God.

Those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus, and try to reconcile interrelationship conflicts, shall be called the children of God.

To be called a child of God is no small matter. Jesus spoke to a group of people one day, and called them children of the Devil.

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.

When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

The contrast between being called a child of the Devil, and being called a child of God, is startling.

A child of the Devil will covet, murder, and lie, and be mean. A child of God will bring peace to others, and live a life that does not support covetous, hatred, and deception.

To be called something in the Bible is to show ownership. To be called a child of God means to be owned by Him. One reason why so many people in the Bible had their names changed was to teach this truth.

Abram (high father) became Abraham (father of many nations”, Gen, 17:5).

Sarai (contentious) became Sarah (a princess, Gen. 17:15).

Simon bar Jonna, became Cephas which, when translated, is Peter, a rock (John 1:47).

Saul of Tarsus became Paul (little one,  Acts 13:9).

If we want to be called a child of God, then let us be peacemakers for our good, and for the Lord’s glory.

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