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  • Writer's pictureRobert Phillips

The Beatitudes: Peace & Persecution

The Beatitudes result in the path of Christ, which is a path of peace that leads to persecution. Verse 9 of Matthew 5 continues:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

All of the beatitudes can be read and interpreted in reverse and still hold true. Peacemakers will be called sons of God, because sons and daughters of God will be peacemakers.


You can not bring a Gospel of peace to the world around you if you believe you are the protagonist in the story of life. Jesus is the main character, and He died to restore humanity, not subjugate it. He brought peace, not the sword.



Living As A Peacemaker


James 4:1 questions,

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?"

James is pretty blunt in this verse: if what you say and do causes perpetual quarrels and fights, it’s not of God. In fact, you might be even promoting what is demonic.


James says earlier, in chapter 3 verses 13–18,

"Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."


When I exercise Godly wisdom in my day-to-day life, it comes out as pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, balanced and sincere. When I’m having conversations with people, this should be the result if my focus is on Christ with an attitude of meekness. Am I a peacemaker in an un-peaceful society?

  • Does my stance on politics produce a harvest of righteousness?

  • Does my stance on theology produce a harvest of righteousness?

  • Does my approach to family and marriage produce a harvest of righteousness?

  • Do my responses to what I don’t agree with in society produce a harvest of righteousness?

  • Does the way I interact with my culture produce a harvest of righteousness?


Martyn Lloyd-Jones has written, “Before you can be a peacemaker, you really must be entirely forgetful of self, because as long as you are thinking about yourself, and shielding yourself, you cannot be doing the work properly. To be a peacemaker, you must be, as it were, absolutely neutral so that you can bring two sides together. You must not be sensitive, must not be touchy, must not be on the defensive. If you are, you will not be a very good peacemaker…The peacemaker is one who is not always looking at everything in terms of the effect it has upon himself” (Lloyd-Jones, pg. 104-105).


If what you say and do causes perpetual quarrels and fights, it’s not of God. In fact, you might be even promoting what is demonic.

Peacemaking ≠ Avoiding


Being self-focused doesn’t always manifest as someone who is argumentative or angry or stubborn. Sometimes being self-focused can manifest as aloofness, being withdrawn, or even controlling of one's own social order and environment. One of the current trends in our culture today is to insulate our lives from others because of the effort it can take to be a peacemaker. The logic is simple: if I’m not near anyone, there will be no conflict.


I believe there are some positives to avoiding unnecessary conflict. We don’t need social media arguments. We don’t need to insert ourselves into quarrels and arguments that aren’t a part of our sphere of burden. We have to remember, however, that conflict is given to us by God to help us grow more like Christ as humans, or to help someone else grow more like Christ. All too often, I’m witnessing more and more people giving themselves permission to disappear from relationships that aren’t easy. God doesn’t give us permission to simply “write-off” our family or church body just because they are high-maintenance. There is no permission slip to insulate ourselves by hiding, ghosting, or framing and controlling accessibility. I’m not speaking right now to abusive or toxic relationships. I’m speaking to a culture that doesn’t want to put any effort into relationship beyond what is easy and self gratifying. In the name of our social batteries, we are losing a depth of relationship that is necessary for mutual growth. Being a Biblical peacemaker is not avoiding high-maintenance or un-gratifying relationships within our family and church body!


In his book called Bold Love, Dr. Dan. B Allender says it this way: "Self-protection is the self-centered commitment to act without courage, compassion, boldness, and tenderness for the sake of the other. It is an intentional, though usually unconscious, disposition that offers the other everything or anything but the heart. Self-protection can be dressed either in codependent maneuvering that lacks self-identity, freedom of choice, and strength, or in counter-dependent distancing that alienates through self-assertion, demanding control, and intimidation. In either case, in extreme or even in subtle form, there is a failure to offer both a tender and a strong heart. The result will be an absence of bold love.”


Producing Righteous Peace


James gave a 3-part plan for how we can produce righteous peace in our relationships in

James 1:19-21, which says,

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."


James’ 3-part plan is listen quickly, speak slowly, and react slowly. We don’t just possess two ears so that we listen twice as much as we speak. Logically, we have two ears so that we can hear from multiple directions and process information from both sides of our brains. Wise people bring in more information than they give out. Foolish people are purely focused on using their voice to be the teacher.


I mentioned with regard to purity of the heart (our last beatitude) that we can’t just stop sinning with stubborn tenacity; rather, we have to move in a positive direction in our minds and replace sinful thoughts with productive thoughts. Wisdom teaches us to ponder our way into practice. Philippians 4:8–9 says,

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (ponder). What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."


We must learn to give information time to get from our ears, through our brains, and filtered through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. This is what being “slow to speak” looks like in real time. If you never get a chance to share your opinion for the sake of being meek and gentle, that is still a win!


Jesus gave a gracious warning when it comes to peacemaking, because He didn’t want people to be surprised that peacemaking isn’t always peaceful. He says in Matthew 5:10-12:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil 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."

Peacemaking always results in persecution. Peacemakers get taken advantage of--that’s the nature of peacemaking. It’s the Gospel story of Jesus. Being persecuted for righteousness' sake is very different from being persecuted because you are a selfish or unkind person.

Being righteous is simply being like Jesus. This will result in persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12-13 reminds us,

"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."


Peacemakers get taken advantage of--that’s the nature of peacemaking. It’s the Gospel story of Jesus

Beginning & Ending With The Kingdom


It’s important to see that Jesus began the beatitudes with the kingdom of heaven, and wrapped up the beatitudes with the kingdom of heaven. If we are about a greater kingdom, a kingdom that is spiritual in nature, then we are going to rise above the brokenness of earthly kingdoms and the lack of peace they produce. The kingdom of heaven seen through the beatitudes can be described as poverty, purity and peace.

Poverty: the recognition of my spiritual needs being met in Christ.

Purity: the recognition of my spiritual pursuit being Christ.

Peace: the recognition of my spiritual purpose and position in Christ.

We must ponder each of these into practice.


On rejoicing in tribulation, Martyn Lloyd-Jones says: “Let us look at it in this way. According to this argument, my whole outlook upon everything that happens to me, should be governed by these three things: my realization of who I am, my consciousness of where I am going and my knowledge of what awaits me when I get there” (Lloyd-Jones,125).


I can not fulfill my true place in God’s kingdom if I’m not prepared to embrace my poverty in need of Christ, the purity that God desires and the peace that comes with understanding my purpose and position in Christ.


References

Allender, D. B., & Longman, T. (1993). Bold love. Navpress.


Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1976). Studies in the sermon on the Mount: One-volume edition. Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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