Our text for this Sunday is Matt 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9 ESV). A simple, straightforward passage; yet it has an incredible amount of depth.
This coming Sunday's sermon, in my thinking, potentially reflects the culmination of what the last decade of ministry has taught me. Not because I was good at being a peacemaker, but I've learned how to become one, and I've learned the value of being a peacemaker - the hard way. I want peace more than just about any other ideal.
I have seen enough shrapnel fly in the trenches of local church work: You never know where the landmines are till you step on them. I've seen several classmates from preaching school drift out of "full-time" ministry. I've heard stories of pain, and lived through painful times too. I've sought peace and that search led me to really seek out the Prince of Peace like I've never done before. Peace is better than the strife and feuding that prevails in so many quarters. There's so much useless and needless pain we endure; if only we'd seek peace.
The peace we are presently enjoying at New Song is basically because the people we are worshiping with are mature, and, we nurture unity within diversity. We are okay with not seeing everything eye-to-eye. 100% agreement is not a test of fellowship. We have a mutual respect that overlooks minor differences and encourages a group dynamic where people have the freedom to express opposing opinions without fear of being shunned or rebuked. It's quite liberating not being held hostage by religious peer-pressure. At the end of the day, we love each other more than we love "being right" or proving one another "wrong".
Peacemaking doesn't come naturally for everyone; it's a skill most of us need to be taught. I can't think of a better gift you can give your children than the skill of being a genuine peacemaker. In their marriages, places of work, with neighbors, in the many relationships they will enter in, the ability to build bridges and reconcile differences will take them the farthest.
As I work on this Sunday's sermon on Matt 5:9, I hope & pray I will be able to uncover the immense value of peace, and perhaps throw in a few pointers on how to be peaceful. There are a few paradoxes I've stumbled on already. Sometimes we have to fight for peace, and, sometimes we have to confront each other to build peace. Sounds intimidating. Pray for me.
One final thought: I wish all the people I've ever hurt in church or those who've ever hurt me could be together this Sunday and we could circle around this passage and celebrate the love of Jesus and the power of His blood...