Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they...

The Peacemaking God

We live in a troubled world.  Just yesterday, Indonesia's Sumatra Island suffered a devastating earthquake.  Fighting continues in Iraq and Iraq.  Our mayor, Dan Sullivan, has pledged to curb the violent crime in Anchorage.  The waste of human life is enormous.  Some of us behave appallingly.  Yet we believe in a good God who as the Creator has never lost interest in the world.  He loves the world (John 3.16).  And he has a project.  God seeks to restore the world to the glory for which he created it.  Central to this strategy is Christ, his coming and his cross. 

The cross was and remains a great scandal to the unbelieving mind.  How could peace come through such a violent event?  Yet, the Bible teaches, and Christian experience confirms that peace comes through the crucified Jesus.  The word, 'atonement', first used in William Tyndale's Bible, written in the 16th century, describes how we are made one with God - through the sin bearing death of our savior.

Paul explains this in Colossians 1.19-23.  Peace in the Bible is not simply the absence of of strife or a psychological state of mind.  "The biblical concept of peace is one in which God's authority and power over his created order are seen to dominate his relations with the world, including both the material and human spheres." (Graham Cole)  In other words, peace is to be found in relationship with God through his peacemaking son, Jesus Christ. 

Therefore, peacemaking is to be one of signs of all his children as well: Matthew 5:9
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."  God has made peace with us through his son at great cost to himself, and we, as his children, are called to actively cultivate peace in all of our relationships, and that often means putting the interests of others ahead of our own. 

The concept of peace is also found in the Hebrew word, Shalom.  It means 'to enjoy living before God, to enjoy living in one's physical surroundings, to enjoy living with one's fellows, and to enjoy life with oneself."  (Nicholas Wolterstorff)