One of the greatest tragedies of the Christian church today is that, often, deep scriptural truths are reduced down to nothing but moral teachings. Bible teachers will take the commands that Scripture gives us that are meant to be a command with a promise and reduce it to just a command. Teachers will call their listeners to do or not do certain things, simply because “the Bible says so.” While it is true that the Bible does contain moral teachings, it goes deeper than that!
1. How have you experienced the truths of Scripture being stripped down to simple moral teachings?
2. What sets the Bible apart from being simply moral teachings? What are some of the deep truths of Scripture?
The world that we live in today, for the most part, does not care what the Bible says. Calling someone to live a certain way because “the Bible says so,” does not cut it. In 1 Peter, Peter understands this. He calls believers in chapter 3, verse 15, to, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Peter calls believers to have “a defense.” It is not an offense, something that you look to hurt others with, but a defense. When approached, it is something you have ready.
Today, as we continue in our series, The Beatitudes, examining the beatitudes, I hope you will walk away with a deeper understanding of what God has called believers to do and be, but also with a clear “why” God requires this of believers.
Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” The seventh beatitude, being a peacemaker, comes in the second section of the beatitudes which contain the values of God’s Kingdom- mercy, purity in heart, peace, and those who are persecuted.
3. How would you describe someone who is the opposite of a peacemaker? How would you describe a peacemaker?
4. When is a time you saw someone be a peacemaker? It could be in the news, workplace, or family.
In a world that is competitive and filled with conflict and rivalry, a peacemaker stands out. Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” To be blessed, here, means that God gives gracious condescension. To give someone a condescending look is to be disapproving, to look down upon them, or think you are better than them. However, in God’s case, since He is simply greater and above all things, He is always looking down. As Doc, our Education Pastor, put it, “When you’re at the top, you’re always looking down.” It is like being at the North Pole. You have no choice but to go south, everything is south of you. So God’s gracious condescension is something that I hope you desire as a follower of Christ.
5. What is the difference between a human being condescending and God’s condescension?
6. Why should Christians desire God’s gracious condescension?
Matthew 5:9 goes on to say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Jesus says that peacemakers will be called sons (and daughters) of God. When Jesus says this, He is not saying that “if you do this, then you become sons and daughters.” When you accept the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Christ and turn of your sins, you are adopted into the family of God. That decision and the work of Christ are what allow you to become children of God, not any good works. What Jesus means here is that when you are a peacemaker, the world will call you children of God, because you reflect Him.
As I have grown older, to my chagrin, I have realized more and more how similar I am to my dad. The things I say to my wife, Haleigh, the reasons I give for doing things, and my habits are becoming more and more like my dad. For years, I fought these tendencies. I would say something reminiscent of my dad and immediately scold myself. I wanted to be my own person, or so I thought. Over the last few years, though, God has shown me how being like my dad is natural. When I am around my family, they are quick to point out when I do something like my dad. Similarly, when Christians choose to be peacemakers in a world that is filled with competition and rivalry, they reflect the heart of God Himself who sent Christ as the ultimate picture of peace between humankind and God Himself.
7. How are you similar to your parents? What tendencies do you (or others) see in you that are like your parents?
8. How does being a peacemaker reflect the heart of God?
God is not asking Christians to do something that He has not done. The “why” Christians are to be peacemakers is two-fold. It is because it points others to the work of Christ and because it reflects the heart of God Himself. At the beginning of our time, I shared that my hope was to give you a “why” as to for what reason God calls Christians to be peacemakers. I hope you see that the teachings are not simply moral, they are redemptive, purposeful, and reflect the character of God.
The Beatitudes are attitudes and postures that are blessed in the sight of God. To be a peacemaker is to put one’s pride aside and be a keeper of the peace. It is generally easy to have peace, stay out of conflicting situations, but not as easy to keep or make peace. It begins with your heart. When Jesus gave these teachings, He gave them in contrast to the attitudes of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were more concerned about the external than the internal. The teachings of Jesus always begin with and are focused on the internal, the Christian’s heart and mind. This is no different. To be a peacemaker begins with being at peace with God.
9. What does it mean to be at peace with God? Think communion and reconciliation. Are you at peace with God?
Once you are at peace with God, you can then bring peace to the situations you face daily. To the coworker who is out to get you, being a peacemaker may mean having a difficult but honest conversation. To the family member who has been hurt by your actions, peace may look like asking for forgiveness for your actions.
10. Is there a circumstance in your life where God is calling you to be a peacemaker? If not, how can you seek to be a peacemaker when a situation does arise?
As you seek peace in your workplace, family, and daily life, you will stand out in a world that is filled with rivalry and competition. This may look like coming alongside a struggling coworker rather than blowing past them to advance your career or calling the family member with whom you need to reconcile.
Spend five minutes praying for each other in your Growth Community. Ask that God would give you the courage to be a peacemaker and the ability to humble yourself so that your pride does not get in the way.