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Sermon 6/3/07
Matthew 5:9 - Peacemakers

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Peacemakers

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

We love hearing and sharing the stories of real people. The intention for Friday Study Ministries, the First Church On The Net, always has been that it will not merely be the work of a few people, but instead it is to be the composite work of many, in the power of God. People like – you. We offer “Especially for Men,” “Especially For Women” and “Especially For Youth;” places where you can share YOUR story.

Pastor Dan Dinette is also known as “Diver Dan” because of his expertise as a SCUBA diver and instructor. He speaks of a time when he was with a group of students off the shore of Catalina Island. The father of one of the students had been swimming nearby in order to watch the class, and then he decided to return to the boat. Pastor Dan looked around underwater and saw four swimmers instead of five. Dan communicated the problem through hand signals and all of them looked for the missing swimmer. Finally, they saw the father of one of the boys, but he was steadily swimming away from them. He was trying to return to the boat, but he was swimming in the wrong direction! Dan swam after the man with everything he had, hoping to save him before they both ran out of air. The man was, as Diver Dan put it, “going straight to destruction,” but he was saved from running out of air and things became well for him once more.

Note that ALL in the human race have gone in the wrong direction, whether we think so or not. As Paul the Apostle put it, “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We have lacked faith in the Lord, and faith is as important to us as air is to a SCUBA diver. The “peacemaker” in that context, is Jesus Christ Himself, who died to get us going in the right direction and find the safety of faith in God. And amazingly enough, like the boys helped Diver Dan locate the father; WE are able to be “peacemakers” also, encouraging others find the safety that is only in Jesus Christ.

Recently, in that context, we heard the story of Pete Badame, who told us about the difficulties he had in his youth finding peace with his brother, and about David Alexander, a Youth for Christ club president who helped the two boys. Here’s Pete’s story:

In the spring of 1959, my brother Joe and I were in junior high school; he was in the eighth grade and I was in the seventh. As typical brothers, we fought about almost everything, with me always losing. Joe and I had both signed up for, and sometimes even attended the weekly on-campus meetings of the student group, Youth for Christ. In those days, public schools were not faced with the difficulty of maintaining the separation of church and state as they are today, but that’s another story. The Youth for Christ club president was a young man by the name of David Alexander, who was a very devout Christian. In the afternoons I was with him at the club meetings… I found him to be one of the nicest people I had ever met.

One spring morning, while Joe and I were out on the baseball field during gym class, we were arguing about something and the argument became heated. Just as we were about to throw blows (well, to be correct, that would be Joe throwing and me catching), David Alexander appeared almost out of nowhere. He approached the two of us and extended an arm between us. He then said these few words that have remained with me for nearly fifty years, “Please don’t hit my friend.” Joe and I both turned to him and angrily asked basically the same question, “Who are you talking to??” David looked at the two of us and softly replied, “Both of you.” We looked at this young man and could see in his eyes a real concern and a very settling, almost Christ-like appearance. At that moment we both lowered our arms and simply walked away from the area.

Now, I’m not going to say that this experience had a life-changing effect on either of us, and yes, we still continued to fight after that day... but I know that young man’s action certainly had an effect on me, the proof being that I remember it so vividly after all these years. Whenever I think of that morning, I visualize David Alexander standing there wearing sandals, a beard and a flowing robe instead of gym shorts and a pair of sneakers.

The word translated “peacemakers” in our verse for today is exactly what you would expect - someone who makes peace. It is not a common word in the New Testament, but it does show up in Romans 12:18, where Paul gives good advice to us all: ”If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” “Peaceably,” as used by Paul in Romans, is essentially the same as Jesus' word “peacemakers,” as reflected in Matthew 5:9. If you are in Christ, you are on your way to becoming a peacemaker; someone who forgives and even forgets – through Him.

In the context of our verse for today, Jesus described what we are supposed to be in the church: We are to be poor in spirit, mourners, meek, merciful, pure in heart, seekers after justice, and more (Matthew 5:3 & forward). How many people do you know who are like that? You may know of someone like that, but such people are rare. Notice in Paul’s use of the word that he gave no hint that life would be easy for peacemakers. “IF it is POSSIBLElive peaceably with all” who are in your life (Romans 12:18). It’s often NOT possible in this world. Our job is to simply to be WILLING to become a person like that and then trust in the Lord that He will do what you cannot do. This is not peacemaking in your strength. It’s in the strength and the power of God for those who trust in the Lord.

The ultimate Peacemaker is God Himself. As Scripture says in many forms and ways, “When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even care to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). “Without strength” means not yet being alive in the Spirit and power of God, and notice there is a point in our lives when all are “ungodly.” We may be nice, but without the Lord, we are not even yet alive. God acted in a most unusual and wonderful manner when the Father sent the Son to die for – you.

Like the man in Diver Dan’s class, all of us were “swimming” in the wrong direction. Like the two brothers who couldn't get along, we can’t, either. The brothers needed help from outside and so do we. As God knows, the Son of God is the One who brings us peace. And that's why you need His Son. Let’s pray:

Lord, I trust in You. Fill me with the peace and love of God. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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