What is Christian Living: Peacemaking and Persecution
We all ache for peace. True Peace that Jesus desires for us comes to those who have mourned their sin.
It is not avoidance. Anything that fails to go to the truth and resolve the problem is not peace.
A peacemaker moves into a problem with courage to resist, confront, disagree, and obey God
Join me in this episode as we wrap up our study on the Beatitudes
What does a peacemaker look like to you? What do they do, how do they carry themselves?
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
We wrapped up our last episode by talking about a pure heart. We talked about how as we allow God to purify our heart, something is triggered and our outlook is changing and we begin to love others in a different way. It’s like a new realm of love is opened to us. As God is purifying our heart, we begin to see others as the soul they are. We begin to love them more like Jesus loves them.
I had a humbling experience with this years back. In my job, I ran into a person that was a sandpaper sort of person. I couldn’t stand working with them. It felt like every time they spoke to me they were talking down to me as though they were questioning my ability to get my job done. I sought one of my mentors to figure out how to work with someone like that. I remember their words, “Well J, it all starts with a conversation.” That was the best advice, and also the last thing I wanted to hear.
What do you mean a conversation? I don’t even want to hear their voice so why would I encourage them to talk any more? I let that advice simmer for a little bit, and things got worse to a point where wouldn’t even answer their call. I would let it go to voicemail, hear their instruction, get done what they needed and then email over what they had requested.
This worked until one afternoon as I was working through this process and conviction over my avoidance poured all over me. It was then that the words of my friend came back to my mind. This time I decided I wasn’t ready for the conversation with them, but I was ready to talk to Jesus about it. My prayer certainly wasn’t pretty and was honestly pretty self-centered as I asked God to change the other person. Praying over this situation over time however, God began to shift my mind, and I began to see things differently as I saw ways I could do things differently rather than asking God to change my co-worker until one day a face to face meeting with changed it all. I was full of anxiety.
Praying before I left for the office that day my words changed substantially as a new thought ran across my mind. What if I began to see them the way Jesus sees them? So I prayed, Lord please allow me see them the way you see them, as the beautiful soul you say they are. And this my friends, is one of the most beautiful prayers God has answered for me.
I went to the office, met them in the conference room, and as we were sitting there I began to see things so differently to a point where I could hardly contain tears as God showed me this person in a new light. I felt God whisper to me in that moment, you know how much I love you, I love them just as much. Do you know how much grace I have shown you, I’ve shown them the same, do you know how much mercy I extend to you – I extend the same to them. And sitting in that conference room I felt a hard spot in my heart melt away as love began gushing from within as though a dam had been broken down – and my relationship with this person has never been the same. No longer do I avoid them, I look forward to them.
No longer do they feel like sandpaper to me, they feel like a teacher. I have such an appreciation for who they are, and it’s all attributed to Jesus healing this hard place in my heart. By allowing God to purify my heart He allowed this peacemaking ability to be ushered in and a relationship that blesses me so much was set into motion.
What does a peacemaker do?
A peacemaker accepts the sacred responsibility to diffuse grace and truth into every situation and to offer the power of the Prince of Peace.
We all ache for peace. True Peace that Jesus desires for us comes to those who have mourned their sin. It’s embraced by people who hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness.
What is a peacemaker? It is not avoidance. Anything that fails to go to the truth and resolve the problem is not peace. A peacemaker moves into a problem with courage to resist, confront, disagree, and obey God in order to achieve real peace. Real peace cannot happen without honesty. It isn’t based on feeling good, being popular or never stepping on toes. It’s born of loving truthfulness.
Peacemakers bring light where darkness once was and speaks truth where lies once lived. Think – shoes of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) When you think of the Armor or God why do you think the shoes are called shoes of the gospel of peace? We are to advance in the battlefield without worry because we carry the Gospel. Worrisome things may be there but we know the Peace Speaker. We understand God is ordering our steps, and our confidence is in Him and Him alone surrendering every challenge to Him, and trusting the path He has us on. Roman battle shoes were comfortable, breathable, had spikes on the bottom. Those spikes were there to help the soldier on uneven paths, difficult paths to help them to gain ground and to keep moving ahead.
This is a life long message of peace.
Abiding in Christ. Living a life of faith in obedience to His word.
Psalm 91 tells us there is a secret place, a place of safety, refuge protection, and peace. This Beatitudes point us to the secret place where we can abide with Christ.
So many of us are looking to find this place and learn what it means to abide. Many of us get caught up thinking doing Christian things will take us there, however doing Christian things doesn’t equal abiding in Christ. To Abide means to bear patiently, to endure without yielding; to withstand, to wait for. It is not doing nothing – it’s a verb. This is where many of us get tripped up. We don’t think it should take any effort, and don’t want to accept that to abide is action and involves effort.
It’s not the afternoon rest we might mistake it for. To get to that place of peace we’ve got to be willing to work for it, push through things and see things about ourselves that aren’t always the easiest to see. Becoming a peace maker means we must learn to make peace by practicing extending mercy to those around us, even to those we don’t think deserve it.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We endure injustice. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evils against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted 2 Timothy 3:12
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
The climate of our world has drastically changed toward Christians. Over 75% of the world’s population live in areas of severe religious restrictions. Persecution is a relating – and evidence we are part of the Kingdom.
When persecution comes whether subtle or life threatening we are presented a choice. Will we hide our relationship with Jesus? Do we really love him and trust Him more than anything else? Jesus knew He was not alone and chose to go to the cross.
31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. 34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever* will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever* therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Why do you think Peter rebuked Jesus? He knew Jesus had all power, so why not use that power to stop this unthinkable act?
What was Peter’s expectation for Jesus’ and His followers? Why does Jesus respond so strongly toward Peter? He’s correcting him drawing him back to obedience with an understanding our ways are not God’s ways. Things aren’t always going to look as we think they should. I think he’s preparing Him for what is to come. We see Peter facing His own paradoxical statements. Whosoever will save his life shall lose it whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s the same shall save it.
What does it mean to take up your cross?
We give up our thoughts our assumptions in exchange for God’s plan. God wants to be the center of our life.
Self-Denial Surrendered to Jesus. He must be the core of our thinking and actions. Deliberate willful surrender – every day. DAILY. This is a choice and decision we make every day. Following Him with full obedience is something we must determine every day. We choose daily to surrender and follow. The first and last Beatitude possess the same reward, why do you think they’re laid out this way? It’s a connecting point showing us that this process isn’t over. It’s not a checkbox, it’s a continuation.
Wrapping up our Beatitude study.
As we’ve worked through this study we’ve shown they’re all interconnected. They aren’t a one and done list they’re a process and that process works throughout our entire life. Our daily walk with God will continuously break up hard places in our heart and reveal more our reliance on God which will open new areas of repentance leading us deeper into a spirit of meekness which will continue to create a greater hunger and thirst for righteousness, which will allow us to extend greater mercy, purifying our heart more and more allowing us to become better peacemakers opening us up to more persecution for righteousness’ sake – but great is our reward.