Standing Out in Our Hunger

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

Matthew 5:9

Not long ago, there was a violent and bloody stand-off between the Israeli military and Palestinian protesters. The news showed smoky pictures of passion and violence. The enmity between the two groups runs deep with mutual threats at eradication and dehumanization.
During the time of Jesus, things were not much different. The Jewish people hated the Roman powers that occupied their land. The passion for revolution was barely hidden under the skin of every person Jesus spoke to.
In fact, this conflict was wrapped up in the idea of Israel being the children of God. The people of Israel believed that their special relationship with God was the foundation of their right to revolt against Rome. So, when Jesus opened his mouth, most were expecting, hoping he would affirm their enmity. But Jesus did not.
Instead, he identified children of God with peacemaking. Those who most closely identify with and live from their relationship with God will bring peace and wholeness of relationship. This walk of counter-cultural peacemaking is the path of being blessed by God.
That kind of political violence seems worlds away from most of us. And yet, we have been slowly nurturing a polarized and angry political climate of our own. We do little to try to understand the people who line up across from us. While we might not throw stones or shoot guns, we certainly do damage to our souls with our dehumanizing thoughts, words, and tweets.
In this text, Jesus is calling Christians to be different. Instead of taking on a mantle of defending a position or ethic or policy, we are to be peacemakers. We are to be people interested in the holistic connection and reconciliation of people. We are not simply to be peacewishers or peacewanters who desire peace from a distance. We are to be people who step out of our polarized tribes and make peace with our lives, with our relationships, with our listening, with our learning, with our loving, and with our presence.
We are to make peace because we are children of God by the peace made for us in Jesus Christ.
Jesus, thank you for being the one who made peace between me and God. Thank you for the ways you have restored my chance to be in relationship with you. Flood me with this peace so that I begin to desire it for those around me. Show me how to step out in little ways today to make peace. Show me how to craft my words, my actions, and my courage so that I embody the very peace that has been given to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Keenan Barber