Blessed are the Peacemakers

Beatitudes, Kingdom of God, Spiritual Growth, Suffering

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

As modern Western Christians when we read the word “peace” in the Bible we build a fence around it. We shrink it down to size. We define it as “inner peace.” “Emotional peace.” “Spiritual peace.” “Peace of mind.” “Peace in my heart.”

Undoubtedly, Jesus gives us all of those things. But if that’s all we think of, we are limiting the biblical concept of peace in a way that is not warranted in Scripture and is not endorsed by Jesus.

In a world that is drunk on hatred and hostility, it is the kingdom of Jesus Christ that brings peace. Shalom. The prophets talked about it incessantly as a recurrent theme. Here’s just one familiar example.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Peace among hostile groups. Peace among the nations. World peace.

It’s the wish of dippy beauty queens. But it’s also the dream of the prophets.

A Few Takeaways from The Apprentice Gathering

Books, Church Leadership, Kingdom of God, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Growth

This past weekend I had the unique opportunity to attend The Apprentice Gathering at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. I arrived on Wednesday night and spent the next three days gleaning from some of the top leaders in the field of Christian spiritual formation.

I first heard about this event several months ago when I stumbled upon it while googling some info on Greg Boyd, who happened to be one of the speakers.

Greg is one of my absolute favorite modern theologians/pastors/authors. Since buying one of his books in Books-a-Million back in 2009, I have followed his work with great interest. He has had an immeasurable impact on my theology and the way I think about God. Possibly more than anyone else. It was a huge honor just to meet him and say “thanks” in person.

Blessed are the Merciful

Beatitudes, Justice, Kingdom of God, Spiritual Growth

As you look at the four portraits painted by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the mercy of Jesus is prominent. Jesus is merciful to sinners. He’s merciful to tax collectors. He’s merciful to prostitutes. The only people to whom Jesus was not merciful were those who were unmerciful.

In my last blog entry I broke down the 4th Beatitude.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [dikaiosuné], for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

As I pointed out, “righteousness” might be better translated as either the word “justice” or “right-ness.” So the verse can be understood this way: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for things to be made right, for they shall be satisfied.

Now, let’s combine the 4th and 5th Beatitudes and look at them together.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for things to be made right, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

When you put these two Beatitudes together, you get a deliberate echo of Micah 6:8, which is the summary of the prophetic tradition:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

So they go together. And they have to go together. Because if you do not hold the 4th and 5th Beatitude together in tension, things go awry.