What if we took all of you, the students from Annapolis and switched you with kids from another school that is not a Christian school. Would the teachers and I notice any difference in the student’s behaviors or attitudes? Would there be a difference in how classmates would treat each other? In what kind of things are said or what is talked about? Any difference in attitudes toward school work? Don’t worry I don’t have a Star Trek transporter to do that. Plus we would miss you guys. The point is that if we are a school that is committed to living out the beatitudes, there should be a stark difference in how we live our lives here in a community as a school than other schools that are not committed to God’s Word.
When Jesus preached the sermon on the mount, He was telling the world this is what a true follower of Christ is and it does not look like anything else in this world. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. . . . Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. . . . Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
The apostle Paul calls Christians to be new creatures, new creations. What he means is a complete and total heart change. Like we talked last week, a changed heart is seen in your life. Your actions, what you do. It will especially be seen in what comes out of your mouth. Your words.
The beatitudes kills the idea that you can be a Christian but act and speak and think however you want to. The beatitudes shows us that being a Christian in the kingdom of God means a deep and radical commitment to Jesus. There is an idea that is very common in the United States and it is this. I can believe in Jesus and go to heaven but it doesn’t matter if I am merciful, pure in heart or a peacemaker.
If we live the life that Jesus calls us to live in the Beatitudes, your life will look different than many other students your age. One of those qualities that will look radically different is that you will be a peacemaker.
Why is there not peace in the world? Why are their soliders all over the world, with guns and tanks and planes? Why are people fighting? Why all the anger, greed, lust, and pride? One answer. Sin. Sin is a parasite. Do you know what a parasite is?
Growing up in Nebraska, I lived on a farm. We had acres of pasture land but there were these low spots between fields called ravines and huge cottonwood trees would grow there. In the summer, I would play in the deep grass. I would climb trees. Looking for adventure with our dog, a golden retriever named Gabe. We would come home just full of mud but we also brought home some other things. Ticks. They were these flat, eight-legged bug looking things that had these sharp pincers and would bite into your skin and drink your blood. You would have to run your fingers through your hair and feel around for them. Which would be a lot easier for me now. If we didn’t pick them off Gabe, they would drink so much blood that they would look like a balloon and if you squeezed them too hard, they would pop and blood would go flying everywhere. Ticks are a parasite. They feed on living things. Sin is a parasite. It feeds on you. A living image bearer of God. If we allow sin to stay there it will balloon up and feed on who you really are and what you were created to be. It turns you inward and keeps you from looking upward. It is why you see so much evil and very little peace. This is why the call to be peacemakers in this world is so desperately needed and why it is so hard.
A peacemaker is a bit of a contradiction. A true peacemaker keeps to himself but also goes out his way. A peacemaker keeps to himself in that he is not looking for trouble but at the same time, a peacemaker goes out his way and is looking for ways to bring peace to people. Ultimately ways to bring all men to have peace with God.
If you and I want to be a peacemaker, here are four things we must do.
- Learn not to speak, at least not to speak so much. In the book of James, the brother of Jesus wrote be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. He also wrote that we are to tame our tongue. Train it to stop talking. I’ve heard it said that God created two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk.
- Learn to think of others first-Romans 12 says “not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.” We need to stop worrying about ourselves and what is in this for me. I see it in basketball when someone gets called for a foul, what do they do. They put their hands up, argue with the ref, sometimes slam the ball down. They aren’t thinking about the team. They are just thinking about themselves. When you get corrected, do you immediately argue and get offended and angry. In those moments, you are just worried about yourself.
- Look to make peace-Proverbs 25 says If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. If you control your tongue and don’t say mean things about your enemy, and you think about what you are doing and see that you must act in love even towards your enemy, you are now in a position to give them food and drink. You can approach them, speak to them, apologize to them, be friendly to them, and do everything you can to make peace. But if you run your mouth and behave badly towards them because you fill your mind with thoughts of how mean they are to you, you will never be able to make peace with them.
- Spread peace to everyone around us-We must be approachable. Loveable. Selfless. Kind. This is contagious. It will spread from person to person. Peace will grow.
Throughout history, there have been great men and women who have sacrificed greatly for peace and are examples for us to see what it takes to be a peacemaker. One such example is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We recently celebrated a holiday in recognition of his life. Dr. King was a minister and around 1954, he became a leader for people who wanted the government to provide the same laws and rights to all people, regardless of the color of their skin. Many people did not like this at all. In fact, they hated him. They yelled at him. Cursed at him. Tried to hurt him. He had so many enemies. In 1957, he preached at a Baptist church in Alabama. He preached a sermon called Love Your Enemies. In that sermon, he said that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe and he would rather die than hate. He dedicated his life to be a peacemaker in a world of discrimination, racism, and hate.
A year later, someone who hated Dr. King ended his life. Even in the midst of all of this evil, Dr. King did not go out looking to get back at people. He believed in peace through the sacrifice of love. His legacy lives on today, long after his death. As wonderful of a man as Dr. King was, our ultimate example is Jesus. When Jesus was wrongly accused by wicked men, his disciple Peter wrote in 1 Peter, “when Jesus was reviled (abused, insulted), did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
We are to look at these examples and then look at ourselves and ask, am I a peacemaker? Are there little tick parasites of sin that I need to find and destroy? Do I have control over my tongue and what I say? Do I think of others first? Do I look for peace or am I getting into other peoples business? Lastly, do I spread peace to the people around me? Are my friends becoming peacemakers as well because they are spending time with me?
This world needs peacemakers. This school needs peacemakers. Your class needs peacemakers. Your family needs peacemakers. Are you willing to be a peacemaker? To lay aside your natural bent to fight for your wants, needs and desires and instead to love, even to love your enemies. If so, here is your promise, you will be called sons of God.