This is a bible study I did on the Beatitudes, which are the opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew Chapters 5-7. The central theme of this study is how a life that is lived in Christ, through Christ, goes through stages of development, with each stage demonstrating certain types of fruit, if you will.
The culmination (such as that can be, for the process is never complete) of that transformation is to become a peacemaker. This idea of a “peacemaker” has been perverted, through the ages, to equate what the police and military do to what it means to be an actual peacemaker in the Kingdom of God.
To be sure, the effort by state-supporting pastors and priests to use this phrase to justify police in the modern-day form and military in modern day form, is not at all out of keeping with the constant efforts through the ages to use religion, in general, to justify the decidedly anti-Christ ways of the state.
In this case, the police and the military, especially in the modern sense of the word, do not come remotely close to meeting the definition of the peacemaker Christ describes in the Beatitudes. Hopefully, this study will show how the possibility for a police officer or a military person to fulfil this role of peacemaker, at least through the functions assigned to them in their capacity to support the state’s edicts, cannot be met.
At best, police officers and military are peace keepers, they do not make peace, and they certainly do not make peace in the spiritual sense of the term, the sense that Christ was using in the Sermon on the Mount.
This bible study is aimed squarely, at least in this posting, at the Christians who use scripture to justify the unjust acts of the state, and even the non-believers who seem to seek to pervert scripture to attempt to browbeat Christians who have rejected coercive association governance models to accept their personal god, the state.
5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain and sat down. His followers came to him.
2 This is what he started teaching them:
Who does the Kingdom Belong to? Those broken in spirit. Those who are crying. Those who are humble. Those who thirst and hunger for what is right. Those who have mercy. Those who have pure hearts. People who make peace. People who are persecuted for doing right. People who are insulted, lied against.
3 “The people who are broken in spirit are happy, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to THEM.
4 The people who are crying now will be happy, because THEY will be comforted.
5 Humble people are happy, because the earth will be given to THEM.
6 People who are hungry and thirsty for what is right are happy, because THEY will be filled.
7 People who give mercy to others are happy, because THEY will receive mercy.
8 People who have pure hearts are happy, because THEY will see God.
9 People who make peace are happy, because THEY will be called the sons of God.
10 The people who have been persecuted because they were doing right are happy, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to THEM.
11 “You will be happy when people insult you, persecute you, and tell all kinds of lies against you because of me.
12 You should be full of joy and be very glad, because you will have great rewards in heaven. This was the way your ancestors persecuted the prophets before you.”
Broken in Spirit- We are broken before God, counted as worthless and unworthy, but redeemed in his blood. We cannot do anything, we cannot conquer sin, fear, death, only when we are broken before God himself can we hope to conquer death and be redeemed.
Those who are crying- Why would we cry when we have a redeemer who promises us an eternal life in His kingdom? Why? We who are crying are those who see the fallen world and the lost around us, careening towards eternal death. When we live in Christ, we experience the anguish, in a very small, but for us, powerful part, the anguish of the death around us that is not redeemed because the people of this world rejected the cornerstone, Christ. If we are happy in this world, then we are of this world. If we are of this world, then we are not of Christ.
Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters at the same time. The servant will like one but not like the other. Or, he will be more loyal to one and look down on the other. You cannot serve God and Money at the same time.”
If our master is not Christ, then we cannot know the anguish He experiences when He sees the fallen world and His children, rejecting His love and turning to death.
Those who are humble- We do not one great work, not even one small work that God Himself does not do for us, through us. The moment we take credit, the moment we stand up proclaiming our own accomplishments, we take away from His glory, the witness of the work He did through us, not for our praise but for His glory so that others might see Him in us and come to worship, to follow, to love Him like we do,
When Moses was called to call waters out a rock, he disobeyed God and struck the rock instead- Numbers 20:9 And Moses took the rod from before Jehovah, as he commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice: and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle.
12 And Jehovah said unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed not in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.
Why would such a seemingly small ‘sin’ keep Moses and Aaron from entering the promised land? Is God just self-centered? No, God knows the hearts of men, always striving to make His miracles their own works, which, He knows, leads them from Him to death, which breaks God’s heart. Moses, still counted as one of the great men of faith, was denied entry into the promised land because his sin had a profound effect on the people of Israel, who saw human action produce a miracle of water, not God, whom they would have seen if Moses had proclaimed God and not proclaimed himself, as he did by striking the rock. This is why only the humble will inherit the kingdom of God, for they proclaim God in the works He will do through them, not themselves.
Those who hunger and thirst-
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the food which gives life. The person who comes to me will never be hungry. The one who commits himself to me will NEVER be thirsty.
Jesus is the bread and water of life, the Living Word, the Word made flesh. We hunger and thirst for this food daily when we pursue Him in our lives. We hunger and thirst for His truth, his righteousness, for it is the only ‘right’ this world holds for us.
People who give mercy to others-
Christ tells us through the parable of the master who forgave a servant’s debts the consequences of not forgiving as we have been forgiven by our master, Christ- Matthew 18:35 My heavenly Father will treat you the same way, if each of you does not forgive his brother or sister from his heart.”
Those who have pure hearts-
Our hearts are pure only insofar as Christ lives in us. Paul makes it clear in Romans the source of our righteousness- Romans 4:5 But suppose a person doesn’t work for it? Instead, he believes in God who makes an ungodly man righteous. Then, his faith is regarded as righteousness.
It is our submission to Him through love, not works, not making ourselves anything, for Christ’s living Spirit, the Holy Spirit does the work of righteousness for us, and we are made pure in our submission, not our work.
People who make peace- or, blessed are the peacemakers-
Notice here that Christ does NOT say ‘blessed are the peacekeepers’, but the peacemakers. Making peace can mean diving in headlong boldy into the teeth of conflict. Matthew 18 describes a process of peacemaking that is not passive, that is not ‘keeping’ peace, but making peace-
Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister does something wrong against you, go to him or her. Give that person a private warning, just between you and that person. If he or she listens to you, you have won a brother or sister.
16 But if he or she will not listen to you, take one or two people along with you because: `The testimony of two or three people is true.´ (Deut. 19:15)
17 If that person doesn’t want to listen to them, then tell the congregation. And, if he or she won’t listen to the congregation, have nothing to do with them. Treat him like tax collectors or unbelievers are treated.”
Sometimes, the end of making peace looks, in human terms, very unpeaceful. Matthew 18 can sometimes end with someone you love being sent out. But we send people out in love, with the hope of redemption, not to condemn or ostracize, but to let them be confronted, naked and alone, with their sins so that they might turn back to Christ, who is still waiting, always, in love, just like we should be for that same person we send out.
People who are persecuted- I will address persecuted, insulted, and lied about in this section. Christ tells us that He did not come to make peace, He came to bring a sword, dividing father from son, mother from daughter. Why? He came to separate the wheat from the chaff, the meat from the bone, and the bone will hate the meat, the chaff will despise the wheat. The mere separation from the world, to live so distinctly differently from the ways of man will be an indictment to men and women, comfortable in their sin lives, happy in the death they see as entertainment and joy.
When you, as a Christ follower, stand beside a person of this earth, it should be as a bright flame standing next to an empty, black cave, a cave that fancies itself brilliant and lovely. How will such a person feel when you stand next to them, confounding their human truths with love and grace and God’s strength? They will hate you and plot to destroy your light so that their black cave looks bright again next to you.
If you are not hated by this world, if you are not despised by the people of the earth, then you need to examine yourself.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to find out if you are truly in the faith. Prove it to yourselves. Unless you fail, surely you know that Christ Jesus is among you?
Are you broken in spirit? Do you weep for the fallen world around you? Are you humble before the great works the Holy Spirit does through you, around you? Do you thirst and hunger for His Word, for His truth, daily, hourly, minute after minute? Do you have mercy for those who have wronged you? Does your heart reflect the righteousness of Christ through the Holy Spirit’s working? Do you seek to make peace in Christ and not keep peace in the earth? Are you persecuted, hated by the world you confront with truth merely by living Christ’s Word in your daily life? These are the basic fruits of being His disciple and not the earth’s.