Blessed are the Peacemakers
After having walked with the cross through twenty wars in the world in places as divergent as Nicaragua and Chad from Northern Ireland to Beirut and so on and having been in jail twenty times, been beaten, stoned, been before a firing squad to be shot. Had the cross stolen, broken and spit upon. I've seen tribes fighting with spears in Papua, New Guinea and planes dive-bombing in Lebanon and having eaten, slept and walked among army troops and guerrilla fighters all over the world. I have some observations that I feel are relevant to the root of the conflicts of our time.
We are living today in a world of escalating violence; the cycle of death, hate and revenge seems to be without end. When you speak to one side and then the other, they tell a story of past injustices and bloodshed that is also happening now. The atrocities of yesterday, 50 years ago or 400 years ago all blend into one. Memory, instead of bringing wisdom and compassion, is the fuel to feed the fire of hate and vengeance. Instead of the sore being healed it still festers with the deadly poison, exploding in violence. The Klu Klux Klan can burn crosses, still filled with the hate of 2,000 years ago and miss the true meaning of the cross. Both Jew and Palestinian can give complete justification for every act of violence. Catholic and Protestant is Northern Ireland can morally justify their "Godly" behavior. Blacks have very true stories of discrimination and slavery, the whites can tell you of black mobs that have gone on a rampage. Iraq and Iran both Muslim but of two different sects continue a blood bath, both justified in their own eyes. A fanatical young man lobs grenades into a church or a synagogue with a clear conscience because he has absorbed past perceived injustices and present revenge. A fighter pilot unloads his weapons of death upon innocent people below with no sign of remorse. His conscience is clear; he only followed a command as all of Hitler’s death agents said or the soldiers who crucified Christ. Sikh rises against Hindus in Punjab, Buddhists struggle against Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka, Korean resentment of past occupation by Japan is still explosive, peasants exploited by big landlords and communist threatened by capitalist. Self justification of your hatred cannot be justified by events of the past, whether they be the crucifixion of Christ or the holocaust. We must let go of hurt less it become hate and consume us in the inferno. Where is the end? In order to see the end you must see the beginning. Satan seeking revenge against God deceived Adam and Eve. Cain rose up and slew Abel. God is the author of life. Satan is the author of death. Jesus made it clear when he said, "The thief has come to steal and to kill and destroy, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10. We are the victims of Satan's revenge against God. Look what he has done in his savage revenge in the world around us. The revenge can be broken! Something has gone wrong, sin. Something has gone right, Jesus. We don't have to live in Satan's revenge, we can be free. South Africa can be free from vengeance, death and hate. So can Palestine and Israel, Lebanon, Christians and Jews and Muslims, for at the cross peace was made. Through Jesus Christ and His shed blood, sinful man can have peace with God. At the cross the worst of man met the best of God. For at the cross all people can gather together, injustices can be laid aside. Hatred and prejudices can be cleansed and we can become new, for the cross not only was a place of death but through the resurrection of Christ has become the place of hope. As Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Yet peace must begin with a person becoming right with God, then one can find peace with their family or husband or wife or children and their neighbors, then their community and world. Dear friend, if you don't have peace in your own heart, how can you have peace in the world? With our earth being ravaged by broken homes of marriage, where a man and a woman cannot live together in the same house with the children of their own blood, how do we think that we can have peace between warring factions on earth when the war is already in our own homes and our own hearts and the first casualty is our children? Both on a personal basis and as society we must experience forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet, the world races headlong into madness. STOP, CONSIDER, you can't create hate to create good; you can't seek revenge and build understanding; you can't say I love God and hate your brother. In the name of morality we are teaching the world to hate. You don't overcome evil with evil. Mrs. Colette King, widow of the slain U.S. civil rights leader during her recent visit to South Africa said, "One cannot use immoral means to achieve moral goals." Some people try to get you to hate South Africa so that it will be a better place but you don't build love on hate. The provocation of hate in the name of justice is the ultimate of deception. When you receive Christ into your life you take on His attributes, when you don't know God you take on the attributes of Satan. As Jesus once said to some religious leaders of His day, "You are of your father, the devil." John 8:44.
What did Jesus say about forgiveness? "You have heard that it has been said an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth but I say unto you that you resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee upon thy cheek turn to him the other also and if any man shall sue thee in the law and take away thy coat, let him have your cloak also. For whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile go with him two. Give to him that ask thee and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away. You have heard that it had been said thou shall love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy. But I say unto you, love thy enemy, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. That you may be called the children of your Father which is in heaven. For He maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. If you love them which love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brother in honor what do you do more than others? Do not even the publicans also? But be ye therefore perfect even as your father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:38-48) Jesus even puts the responsibility upon the one who has been wronged. Even if we are guiltless and have done nothing wrong we have the responsibility of reconciliation. Jesus said, "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way. First be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5: 23-24) God does not even want your money unless you are reconciled to your brother. Then God will accept your gift. In the Lordly prayer, we are to forgive those who have trespassed against us as God forgives our trespasses. The true peacemaker is not to be the cause of more suffering and hatred but is to be seen in this light. (Matthew 25:41-46) Then shall He say unto them on His left hand, depart from Me you cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels for I was hungry and you gave Me no meat, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you took Me not in, naked and you clothed Me not, sick and imprisoned and you visited Me not. Then shall they also answer him saying Lord when so all were You hungry or thirsty. or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or imprisoned and did not minister unto You, then shall He answer them. I say unto you in so much as you did it not to one of the lest of these, you did it not to Me And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal."
Let us assume the role of peacemaker. It is one thing to say peace, it is another to go into the conflict and reach out with one hand to the one side and the other hand to the other side." The true peacemaker tries to reconcile not agitate. The way of the peacemaker is simple: love, forgiveness and reconciliation.
"All things are of God who has reconciled ill to himself by Jesus Christ and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Not imputing their trespasses unto them and have committed them to us, the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us we pray you in Christ stead be you reconciled to God. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:18-21)
Perhaps the clear desire of Jesus as expressed at His birth by the angels, "Peace on earth, good will to men" is seen in His words "and the glory which thou gave Me, I have given them that they may be one even as we are one." (John 17:22) When we receive his glory we are one family of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:19) The spirit itself betroth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God and if children then heirs. Heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. If so be that we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified together for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:16-18) "I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were past away; and there was no more sea. And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heavens saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold I awake all things new." (Revelation 21:1-5) "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." (Revelation 22:17,20-21)
Copyright. 1986 by Arthur Blessitt
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