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Beatitudes, part 7: Blessed are the Peacemakers

The Beatitudes exemplify virtues that God deems worthwhile.  As can be expected, these are not virtues that the world would identify as virtuous.

The first four Beatitudes are felt needs:  poor in spirit, mourning, meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

The next three are states of being:  merciful, pure in heart, and the peacemakers.  The merciful are granted mercy, the pure in heart see God, but the peacemakers are called sons of God.

Paul wrote to the Romans that the kingdom of God isn’t about rules and trifles.  It’s about peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  “Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom 14:18-19).  In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul instructs believers to “[a]im for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11).

God will be with you if you live in peace and comfort one another.  Paul instructs us “with humility of mind [to] regard one another as more important than yourselves . . .” (Phil 2:3).  Being a peacemaker is about living an others-centered existence.

The peacemaker draws closer to God with each step, and James tells us that if we draw near to God he will also draw nearer to us (Jms 4:8).

This isn’t to say that we should let ourselves get stepped on, kicked and beaten.  Christian nations shouldn’t disarm themselves unilaterally.  After all, the apostle Paul qualifies that we should live at peace as much as it depends on us (Rom 12:18).  Let’s not go looking for fights, and let’s forgive as often as we are wronged (Mt 18:22).  Then we will truly be children of God.

Beatitudes, part 5: Blessed are the Merciful

The first four Beatitudes identify felt needs as virtues:  the poor, the mourning, the meek, and the hungry.  The next three identify states of character as virtues.

The first is mercy; the merciful will receive mercy.

Some people think that mercy is not meting out a deserved punishment.  Not so.  Mercy is more akin to gratitude.  “Lord, have mercy,” is better understood as “Lord, continue to be gracious with us.”  That’s why the KJV renders “mercy” as “loving-kindness.”

This has to do with the honor-shame society of the Bible and the satisfaction of personal debts.  Taking the high road with people who owe you something is a virtue that God loves (see Mt 6:15-15; Mk 11:25; Lk 6:35; Eph 4:32).

Jesus told the story of a wealthy landowner who demanded payment of a huge debt from one of his servants (see Mt 18:23-35).  The servant didn’t have it, so the landowner forgave the debt completely.  Later, that same servant demanded payment of a far smaller debt from a fellow servant.  When the second servant couldn’t comply, the first had him thrown into prison.  The landowner then ordered the first service imprisoned.  Jesus said that if we do not forgive the debts of others, then God will not forgive the one we have with him.

Forgiving others, having mercy on the undeserving are all rooted in God’s character.  The real idea of Christianity is to transform us, no to leave us to enjoy the pleasures of this world.  We are adopted as sons of God, and he does so to mold us into the image of his Son.  Therefore, having mercy on others as God has had mercy on us is a sign of that transformation.

Answers to Tough Questions #1-3

In my recent podcast, I told a lie.

I said that the first three videos in the series answering Shawn, aka “azsuperman01” were up. That’s because when I recorded the introduction, the videos were written but not recorded or produced. I had planned to record and produce those videos prior to the podcast “airing.” Well, that didn’t happen.

So, finally, I have gotten around to producing the videos. Here they are:

Question #1: When Can God Forgive?

Question #2: Crimes of Mankind

Question #3: Free Will