Why does God bless peacemakers?

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9).

"A peacemaker is a person who breaks up fights," says Doug, age 10. Is this a referee or more like a bouncer?

Davis, 10, has a slightly different idea: "If you try not to start fights but settle them, you will be thanked." I hope you'll be thanked, Davis. But often the peacemaker is misunderstood, blamed and persecuted for trying to prevent strife and conflicts.

"God will make us peacemakers if we show the peace we already have," says Stephanie, 8. Exactly. How can we bring peace to others if our insides are churning? World peace begins with inner peace.

"A peacemaker is someone who actively pursues peace," says Kristin, 10. "The peace comes from Jesus so that we can bring peace to others. Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Followers of Christ are true peacemakers." The work of God among those who accept Jesus as God's son creates a new family of peacemakers that transcends race, culture and economics. But the flip side is that the members of your natural family might not be excited about your new peace with God. In fact, they might think you're crazy.

Peacemaking is provocative. The peacemaker, "by laying bare the violence that must be overcome, frequently appears to be the fomenter of the very violence being opposed," writes author Gene Davenport. "But this violence otherwise remains hidden or denied. Jesus himself is the prime example of this fate of peacemaking."

When Jesus was born, shepherds in the field heard angels saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" The good news of the gospel is the only hope for harmonious relationships.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. But he also said the second commandment is like the first: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

The Hebrew greeting "shalom," which is translated as "peace," means far more than a lack of friction and conflict. It includes perfect welfare, serenity, prosperity and happiness. Righteous personal relationships, intimacy and fellowship are uninterrupted in an atmosphere of shalom. Goodwill among people prevails.

Wes, 11, provides an example of a peacemaker in action: "One day, my friend was so mad at something. No one knew what it was he was mad at. I went over to him, and I said, 'The Lord is with you, and he will settle your heart down.' After that, he wasn't mad the rest of the day."

It's hard for us to imagine a world of harmony, peace and true righteousness, but that's the way it was in the beginning. The fall introduced strife, discord, chaos and division. World history is a series of conflicts with occasional interludes of peace brought on by a spiritual awakening or enforced by a strong army. In such an environment, peacemakers have their work cut out for them.

"God loved his enemies," says Lee, 10. "We should love our enemies." Someone once said that a man is known by his enemies. It would be better to say we're all known by how we treat our enemies. Christians should be the peacemakers in our society. Their experience of God's presence should function as bright light shining in world full of darkness, agitation and confusion.

Consider this description of the first-century Jerusalem church: "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people" (Acts 2:46-47).

Point to ponder: God's peaceful presence can make you a peacemaker. Scripture to remember: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9).

Question to consider: Are you a peacemaker or an agitator?

Inspire your children by reading this column with them and visiting the Kids Talk About God Web site at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

© 2005 Carey Kinsolving