Peace in the Middle East! And Here, Too?

As anxiety intensifies leading up to Nov. 3, align your spirit with the Lord of peace through the Beatitudes.

I’ve been heartened by the recent peace deals in the Middle East. In a perpetually conflicted region, it’s great to see the agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan.

Ironic: Now the Middle East is getting along while the US is in turmoil!

Maybe “turmoil” is too strong of a world. Tensions certainly are mounting every day as we near the election. If only someone could come in and broker a peace treaty between parties and factions in our nation! For that matter, if only someone could mediate a peace deal for estranged family members or disgruntled co-workers.

Today’s beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

One of Jesus’ titles is Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) He died on the cross so that we would have true and lasting peace – a restored relationship with God. Peace with God has the power to settle our spirits and give rest to our anxious hearts.

In the Church, the family of God, Jesus brings people together in a shared faith. “For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing law of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14) Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker between people.

Jesus’ comments on peace are fascinating. One time He said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) And then He talks about setting sons against fathers and mothers against daughters!

What?

Here’s the point: Jesus always wants to be first place in your life. He won’t play second fiddle to anyone or anything. As God, He has the right to make that demand on us. “You shall have no other gods before me.” If God isn’t first in our lives, we’re settling for a false peace. He wants the best for us, always.

One of my favorite quotes from Jesus about peace in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled; neither let them be afraid.”

Jesus’ paradigm for peace is just the opposite of our common conception. In our noisy society filed with squabbling, quarreling, and talking over one another, we think of peace as the absence of conflict. In relief, we sigh, “Ah … peace and quiet!”

For Jesus, peace is the presence of His gift. He gives peace. Peace is more than an absence. True peace is the presence of Jesus and His Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Jesus is looking for true peacemakers. People who gently and lovingly point others to Him. People who are willing to sacrifice their own preferences for the common good. The values of heaven are reflected in peacemakers whose lives are grounded in Jesus and His ways.

In the beatitude, He calls these genuine peacemakers “sons of God.” As Scripture says, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons (and daughters) of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3:26) We bear a strong family resemblance when we’re people of peace.

A blessed All Saints Day to you! Thank God for all of the saints who have made your life and our world a better place!

For a post about the condition of our world today, click here.

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Author: Christopher Kennedy

Senior Pastor at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, School, and Child Care in San Antonio, Texas. Husband to my beloved Ashley. Dad to the four most wonderful children in the world.

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