Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt 5:9). He also said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Mat 10:34). The Prince of Peace wielding a sword? How is He both peace maker and peace destroyer? What does this mean for us?
God blesses those who find peace with Him through the Gospel. Christians are then peacemakers as they make disciples bringing an end to the animosity between sinners and God. Peacemaking also involves avoiding and resolving conflict in a Biblical way. Go to your brother or sister if there is an offense and seek to work it through. The apostle Paul instructs us, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom 12:18). Do not unnecessarily antagonise people. Do not be rude. Learn to turn the other cheek when appropriate. Learn to do good to all and to love your enemies. Always be willing to apologise, to forgive and to move on. Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).
As Paul indicates however, it is not always possible to achieve peace. This is what Christ means when He speaks of coming with a sword. Such is the nature of truth that it will divide. There are those who oppose the Word of God and those who stand for it. To compromise truth in order to be at peace with those who reject truth is to forfeit God’s blessing. It is to set Him aside for the sake of an easy life.
If we are at peace with the world and the world is at peace with us (in the sense we accommodate its sinful ideas and standards), we do not have peace with God. We are not blessed as peacemakers but reproached. In the book of Jeremiah the people of Judah were exceedingly sinful and the leaders accepted their behaviour. They preached a false message of peace with God. They preached what the people wanted to hear. Jer 6:14, “They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, ‘peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.”
There are two kinds of peacemaking – according to God’s Word and contrary to God’s Word. In a sense we are all peacemakers – we will either make peace with God or we will make peace with those who oppose God. We cannot be at peace with both. Matt 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.”
Which of the two scenarios do we fit into – we are at peace with God which means the reproach of the world; we are at peace with the world which means the reproach of God? What kind of peacemakers are we? Whose blessing do we most desire? Whose reproach do we most fear?