Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Peacemakers – Did you know that the Greek word for “peacemaker” never occurs in Greek literature except in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint)? That tells us something important. The concept “peacemaker” is Hebrew, not Greek. In spite of all that you have heard about Christians making peace with others and with God, the idea does not come from the Greek world of the first century. It comes from a much more ancient world – the world of the Hebrew Bible. If you want to know what Jesus really said, you’ll have to look at the Hebrew idiom, rodfei shalom, “those who pursue peace.”
You might think, “What’s the big deal? It’s still about forgiveness and right relationship with God, isn’t it?” Well, not exactly. You see, the Greek idea of peace is based on the thought that war is the normal state of the world. For the Greeks, peace is the absence of conflict, a temporary reprieve between battles. That is probably the way that you look at peace with God – a halt to the war, a time of relief, in the middle of a battle. If that’s your idea of peace and peacemakers, then you are Greek. This Greek idea leads to pursuit of the balanced life, where all the conflicting elements are brought under control. Greek peace is that place where you no longer have to fight your way through all the competing entanglements of life. If you think of your life as a struggle to get everything balanced correctly, then you are Greek. You view life’s objective in terms of the absence of struggles.
The Hebrew idea of peace is quite different. For the Hebrew, peace is about harmony, not balance. Pursuing peace is about being in tune with God, not walking away from the fight.
Since God is in a cosmic battle with evil, the Hebrew concept of peace does not pretend to be about escape from the war. Hebrew peace is fighting alongside God, in harmony with His battle plan. Of course, Hebrew peace is also tied to shalom, the critical word for well-being. But this is not well-being in terms of balance. It’s not about getting everything under control so that there aren’t any disturbances in life. Shalom is about harmony, singing the same song that God sings, rejoicing with the angelic hosts in the chorus, “Holy, holy, holy.” Those who pursue peace (the peacemakers) seek spiritual wholeness and well-being, not necessarily an end to stress and disturbance. Peacemaking is the process of healing wounds, first between Man and God and secondly, but just as importantly, between men. Peace is the experience of harmony with God and with each other. It is not simply getting all of your life in order. In fact, life in this world cannot be balanced. That’s what it means to be in a fallen world. Things just never get completely under control. They are essentially broken. But that doesn’t change the Hebrew idea of peace.
The Greek goal is really a hopeless pipe dream. Your life will never be balanced. Something(s) will always be a little off center. But God’s plan is perfect harmony in the midst of a fallen world. In tune with God doesn’t mean no stress or struggle. It means heading in the right direction. It means centered living, not teeter-totter existence. If you pursue peace, then you are blessed. Keep going in God’s direction. Seek!
Topical Index: Shalom