- When there is peace in the heart of a follower of Christ, he or she looks for points of agreement. When war is in the heart, one always looks for points of difference.
- I John 4:20 says How can a man say `I love God’ and hate his brother at the same time?
- Followers of Christ must respond to persecution (to reign and rejoice) NOT react to it.
Week 4 – The peacemakers and the persecuted
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:9-12
This is our last post on the theme – starting 2017 with a fresh perspective. Jesus always challenges us with a different take. In Matthew 5 we see what Christ values.
We have talked about the poor in spirit (dependence), the mourners (repentance), the meek (gentleness), those who hunger (righteousness), the merciful (mercy) and the pure hearted (integrity). Today we look at Matthew 5:9-12 and will consider the peacemakers and the joy of persecution.
There are nearly 400 references to peace in the Bible. The Bible word for peace is shalom. Peace is more than an absence of war, appeasement or avoidance. It is a desire for all the unity and harmony that God can give; it includes mind, body and heart. The idea is this – a peacemaker is one who releases this creative force to change the world. When that happens we become Christ-like.
Next we see that the persecuted will be blessed. The world has no problem accepting a leader who permits us to stay in sin. The world will crucify the one who dares to point them to the narrow way. In one way or another, the righteous have always suffered for their faith. This is the only Beatitude that is personalized by the word “you.” But the persecuted are rewarded. Not an average reward but a “great” reward.
From Windermere’s point of view, these two Beatitudes are essential yet they are so elusive. We want to be blessed but the tests are hard. Sometimes we have done well. If the truth be told, it is impossible to be perfect.
As I contemplate these last two Beatitudes, I am challenged in three areas –
Here is The Message paraphrase for today’s Beatitude.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”
I think 2017 will be a great year at Windermere.
It is always a pretty day at the lake.