Thursday, September 5, 2013

And what will we reap?

But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat,
and went away.
Matthew 13:25

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9

How great it must be to be called a son of God! The only one who was ever worthy to be called the Son of God now gives His disciples the dignity of sharing with Him the divine nature. Though He is One of the Holy Triad, He has flung open the gates of paradise to those He calls friends, even brothers, welcoming them into the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. The Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, who is it for, if not for them?

Do we take it for granted that if we say we are followers of Jesus, that we are also peacemakers?

In this saying of the Lord, along with the others in what is called ‘the Beatitudes,’ there doesn’t seem to be any blanket requirement to ‘believe in Jesus.’ In fact, He is teaching not His disciples, but ‘the crowds.’ Does this mean that they, that just anyone, can be recipients of the blessings He is proclaiming? It almost seems that His words are the preamble to belief in Him.

He is giving the crowds their first glimpse of what they’re in for, if they follow Him. Yes, by the end of this passage, He lets the cat out of the bag, ‘Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you’ (Matthew 5:11-12). Christians are quick to assume they are the ones Christ calls blessed, but what if they are the other ones?

Christians are not perfect. Sometimes they have misunderstandings, disagreements. Sometimes they have arguments. Sometimes they take offense at each others’ words or deeds. Sometimes through weakness they even give offense, sometimes blind to their own sin they accuse others. When this happens, we can depend on other Christians to step in and be peacemakers, step in voluntarily, not be forced in by one side or the other. But we can depend on one of them to be a peacemaker, right?

It would never happen that any of those who confess Christ and follow Him would even think of doing anything other than being a peacemaker when brothers are at enmity, right?

So what does a peacemaker do?
Encourages each side to approach the other in repentance and humility, to forget for the moment whatever it is that seems to have caused the trouble, to abandon self-righteousness, for each to put himself in the other’s shoes, to let love cover any perceived offenses.

Yet this is not what some Christians do. Not only do they not work for peace, but they themselves are the cause of division, of strife. They plant seeds of suspicion, distrust, and evil motives, trying to disrupt holy fellowship between brothers that they themselves cannot have because of the spirit of envy that is in them. Holy fellowship shames them, and so they do all in their power to disrupt it, following the father of lies, planting lies, hoping not for peace but for judgment and calumny.

Where there once was love and trust, they plant hatred and suspicion. ‘There is not just one offended person in this situation. At this point, he has offended you repeatedly by his refusal to read communication, refusing to meet…’

They try to manipulate others and egg them on in their fratricidal fury, ‘You didn’t ask him to mediate, but to be your witness that he is in the wrong.’ Instead of working for peace, they demonize and slay with slander, ‘That whiny conniver has subtly turned the tables on this—he is an expert at that—and suddenly the man you wanted to be your witness against him is his witness against you!’

Rather than seeking peace and reasons for reconciliation, they fuel the fire of hate, ‘He’s not innocent in this. He’s been childish, foolish and recalcitrant. He will not hear, he will not see. He sees only his man-made religion and his self-styled images of Jesus. He loves what he thinks Christianity is, having made it into something palatable. But the raw reality of face to face service is not in his religion. He wants to be thought of as an innocent martyr, but rather than accept rebuke from you in a Christ-like manner, he doesn't even consider the possibility that he is wrong. No, he is offended, not by what you say, but that you didn't say it right, or with the right attitude, or in a church, or with your pants on, or in a synagogue, or holding your mouth just so or some other such thing.’

Yes, there are Christians who talk like this not to make peace but to make war, jealous of a unity in the spirit that they cannot have themselves, so they attempt to destroy it in others. New Nicolaitans, they make use of their age, authority, or some other advantage, to conquer others in secret, just as the devil does, ‘divide and conquer.’ Their work is just the opposite of the work of Christ, yet while they perform it they crown themselves with righteousness, and they trample brotherly love and all other good. I have seen this happen again and again, and I always ask myself, ‘How can they have such hatred?’

It makes me really sick at heart when I consider these things, how those whom we trust to love us and present us with prayer to our heavenly Father sometimes seek to slay us, thinking they are doing God a favor. What kind of earthly parent does that to his own child? It is not for nothing that our Lord warned us, ‘a man's enemies will be the members of his own household’ (Matthew 10:36), yet we do not listen, we do not watch, but gladly let ourselves be marched back into prisons of flesh and spirit, herded by hate against our brothers.

‘Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness’ (James 3:18), but what about those who sow in war?
What do they harvest?

Sad when we see the workers of enmity unleashing their rage in the world, but more than sad when they call themselves Christians. We cannot stop them, they will keep going from bad to worse, disheartening the brethren with their accusations and lying spirits, but as for us, ‘let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up’ (Galatians 6:9).

And what will we reap? What else, but that which we have sown.

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