Where are the peacemakers?

Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.  But where are the peacemakers?  In Isaiah, God asked who He should send, and one person said, Here I am! Send me!  Where is that person today?  Is there really no one willing to be God’s messenger today?  Are there really no sons of God left?  It appears that the answer to both is a resounding NO!  Jesus can ask, who will speak for me.  But no one’s answering.  Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, we can’t hear.

Where are the peacemakers?  Who will speak for me?Of course, no one from the political arena is going to step forward for God.  They can’t.  They’re too afraid.  Afraid of the bully.  Afraid of the president.  Afraid of Trump, the bully president.  And do they hide, like the ostrich?  Pretend everything is OK – while the country burns.  

Maybe Trump gets want he’s wanted all along?  He’s like an Emperor god.  Just like Nero.  Remember him?  The one who supposedly fiddled while Rome burned?  Some say Nero even started the fire himself.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  And the more silence reigns.

Where are God’s peacemakers?

We shouldn’t really expect a peacemaker from God to come from the political ranks.  But too many of us do exactly that.  We should know better.  Let’s look at the verses above to see why.

Where are the peacemakers like Isaiah?

Let’s start with the passage from Isaiah that the excerpt at the top came from.

Isaiah’s Commission

Isa 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy , holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Isa 6:4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
Isa 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Isa 6:6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Isa 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isa 6:9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
“ ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Isa 6:10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Isa 6:11 Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
Isa 6:12 until the LORD has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
Isa 6:13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

I guess that’s kind of scary.  After seeing something of God, Isaiah says:

Isa 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

There are so many problems with what Isaiah said in that one line.

Who really wants to say “Woe to me!”  Apparently, unfortunately, no one.  Unfortunate, because without seeing something of God, we cannot be His peacemaker. 

I’m not going to go through the whole thing here, but for a look at why I invite you to spend some time and check out my series on The Beatitudes.  It goes through a progression that starts with us giving up our own spirit to make way for the Spirit of God.  And after five more steps, we finally reach the 7th Beatitude: Blessed are the peacemakers.  In the middle of that is one that says we will see God. 

And yes, “woe is the current version of us” – because they will transform us into being much more Christ-like.  And while that is supposed to be the outcome of our becoming Christians – we must also realize that “woe to me” is what our own selfish desires will say, every step of the way.

And from that “woe to me” – “I am ruined!” must follow.  Who wants to be ruined?  Truth is, as Christians, we all should want to be ruined.

Then, Isaiah admits, “I am a man of unclean lips”.  We have to admit that we’re not perfect!  While it’s painfully obvious to everyone else, it can be hard to admit to ourselves.  Even for Christians.  Even for someone who says he’s the best thing to ever happen to Christianity.  Even for the bully.  Yet another reason he cannot be the peacemaker from God.

And yet, when God asks, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” – Isaiah responds.  He says – “Here am I. Send me!”.

God had a messenger.  A peacemaker.  I admit, it doesn’t sound like a peacemaker role in this passage.  Unless you happened to read the entire passage.  Because there at the end, it says this:

But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.

There is hope.  Jesus is coming.  And He did come to earth.

For us today, there is also hope.  Again, it’s Jesus.  It will be the second coming.

Being God’s peacemaker

But look what we have to do to take on the role of God’s peacemaker.  After Isaiah says he’ll go, God tells Him:

Isa 6:9 He said, “Go and tell this people:

Isaiah doesn’t get to use His own words.  He doesn’t get to use his  myriad of researchers that come up with the words he should say.  He must say what God tells him to say.  No more.  No less.  That’s a huge problem for the bully.  The bully just can’t stay on script.

Not only must he use God’s words, oftentimes the peacemaker must deliver bad news.  Something the people don’t want to hear.  That will cost the bully votes.  He won’t do that.

Even worse, when using God’s words, when things really turn out the way it was foretold, guess who receives the credit?  God does.  Unacceptable to the bully.  

No, the bully cannot be the peacemaker.

Only a meek person can be the peacemaker.  As we saw in the Beatitudes series though, the meek person isn’t weak.  In fact, the meek person is infinitely stronger than the bully.  The meek person has the power of God.  The bully?  Well, inside, the bully is really a coward.  He has only his own strength.  A strength that’s not even a speck of dust compared to that of the meek peacemaker from God.

Who should be the peacemakers from God?

If you’ve read much of anything from me – you know the answer to the question of who should be the peacemakers from God.  If you’re a Christian, as I’ve said before, go look in the mirror.  One of God’s peacemakers should be the person staring back at you in the mirror!  Remember the passage below?

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Yes, every Christian should not only be a peacemaker from God – we should also be training others to be peacemakers from God.  Every one of us.  The goal isn’t to bring up the baptism count for the church.  The goal is to make disciples.  To train people to be like Isaiah and say, “Send me!” when God asks who will go.

We are Jesus’ representatives on this earth.  And when we are meek, we also have His power to be strong.  Surely you remember the passage below from Paul:

Paul’s Vision and His Thorn

2Co 12:1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.

2Co 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Let’s especially look at that last paragraph.

2Co 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

I’ll come back to this after looking at the other verses.

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

This is exactly what we were looking at with the meek being strong.  Jesus’ power is made perfect when we are at our weakest.  Why?  Because it brings glory to Him – which brings glory to the Father.  It’s not supposed to be about glory to us.  That’s why the bully cannot fulfill the task of peacemaker from God.  The bully craves the glory and will not give it up.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Just like Paul, we should also delight in our weakness.  

It’s like this.  People who know me personally know that when I was working I didn’t like to teach.  I worked at a University.  I was asked to teach a class.  I did it, but didn’t like it at all.  Hated it might be a good description.  I also had to do it as part of my staff job from time to time.  I didn’t like that either.  The first couple times I was asked to lead / teach a class in a church, I didn’t really want to do it.  Now, it’s like the highlight of my week.  Not because of me, but because it’s the Holy Spirit leading me.  All the Glory goes to God.

It’s the same even with writing.  When I was in college, I disliked writing so much that when I had a choice between writing a paper or doing a project, I always chose to do the project.  Or take a test rather than write a paper.  But look what I do now.  Again, it’s not because of me.  It’s because of the Holy Spirit. 

I have to put in the time and effort.  Choose to do these things instead of other things I wanted to do.  Some of my old desires have pretty much been “ruined”.  But it’s OK.  In so many ways, I feel better than ever.  And I feel like what I do now is so much more valuable than what I did while in charge of a multi-million dollar budget running a large university data center.  And having the reputation of being able to fix everything that went wrong.  All because taking the time to listen to God and do what He wishes.

But the bully can’t do any of that.  The bully needs to feel like he’s in control.  Even though he has little to no power at all.  Only what others give him.

What was the thorn in Paul’s flesh?

So let’s get back to that first verse.

2Co 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

Most people think this was a physical disability.  Like maybe a speech impediment that Paul had to overcome to become a powerful speaker.  I supposed that’s because Paul said it was a thorn in his “flesh”.

The thing is though, that doesn’t necessarily follow from what the Greek word we read as “flesh” actually meant.

4561 σάρξ [sarx /sarx/] n f. Probably from the base of 4563; TDNT 7:98; TDNTA 1000; GK 4922; 151 occurrences; AV translates as “flesh” 147 times, “carnal” twice, “carnally minded + 5427” once, and “fleshly” once. 1 flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts. 2 the body. 2a the body of a man. 2b used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship. 2b1 born of natural generation. 2c the sensuous nature of man, “the animal nature”. 2c1 without any suggestion of depravity. 2c2 the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin. 2c3 the physical nature of man as subject to suffering. 3 a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh) whether man or beast. 4 the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.  [1]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

As you can see, what we read as “flesh” in our translations doesn’t have to mean that it’s physical.  Not at all.  

I mentioned before that I feel like the Biblical authors, who were inspired by God, often left out details for a reason.  If Paul specified what his particular “thorn” was, then we’d think that maybe that issue was always “the thorn”.  It’s like the saying about if you give someone a hammer, then everything they see is a nail.  Everything isn’t a nail.  And everyone’s thorn in the side won’t be exactly the same as Paul’s.  So we can’t say that because we don’t have Paul’s thorn, then we’re somehow OK.

Paul may very well have had a speech impediment.  But then, consider what Paul wrote about himself and the flesh.

No Confidence in the Flesh

Phil 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

Phil 3:2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

Phil 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Notice from that passage:

though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

Paul’s saying that when he was Saul, before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was perfect.  

Surely, the bully pretends to others that he’s perfect.  But then the bully is also a coward, so there’s some question as to whether or not, deep down inside, he really believes himself.

But in this case, Paul is saying that he was completely wrong about his view of himself as Saul.  That everything he ever was as Saul was total loss.  Rubbish.  More correctly, dung or excrement.  

Can you imagine the bully ever admitting that?  No.  He’s too much of a coward to have that kind of strength.

In any case – what was Paul’s thorn?  We don’t know.  What we can reasonably believe though, it was something very integral to who Saul was.  A reminder of the way he was.  Something given me (him as) a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Temptation to return to my prior life with a big ego, living on my own strength, that’s the kind of thing that would torment me.

And it’s the kind of temptation that the bully cannot resist.  The fear of giving that up is just too much for the bully-coward.

Where are the peacemakers from God?

So we’ve seen what it takes to be a peacemaker from God.  We see that the bully can’t be one.  He’s too much of a coward.  

And we know that even a politician who talks about God can’t be one.  Especially in this day and age.  They’re too afraid of the bully.  Which is tragically ironic, since the bully himself is a coward.

But what of the religious leaders?  The famous ones?  Especially the Evangelical Christian leaders who were so vocal in their support of the bully when he ran for president.  And who continue to support him as he reigns over us?  Where are they?  Why are they not condemning the bully now?

Are they afraid of the bully too?

From msn news:

Inside the White House, the mood was bristling with tension. Hundreds of protesters were gathering outside the gates, shouting curses at President Trump and in some cases throwing bricks and bottles. Nervous for his safety, Secret Service agents abruptly rushed the president to the underground bunker used in the past during terrorist attacks.

The scene on Friday night, described by a person with firsthand knowledge, kicked off an uneasy weekend at the White House as demonstrations spread after the brutal death of a black man in police custody under a white officer’s knee. While in the end officials said they were never really in danger, Mr. Trump and his family have been rattled by protests near the Executive Mansion that turned violent for a third night on Sunday.

And from the Washington Post:

President Trump on Monday berated the nation’s governors on a conference call, describing them as “weak” in the face of growing racial unrest and urged them to try to “dominate” unruly protests, according to three people on the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation.

Trump also called on the governors to take back the streets and use force to confront protesters and said if they did not, they would look like “fools,” alarming several governors on the call as they communicated privately, according to the officials.

“If you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” Trump said according to a person on the call. 

While the bully hides in his underground bunker at the white house, and calls others weak, are the Christian leaders who called him their anointed one afraid of him?  Are they afraid that the bully is stronger than God?  Are they afraid to stand up and be counted like Isaiah did?  Afraid to say they were wrong?

Or are they like the Church in Ephesus from the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation?   The backsliding, loveless church in Ephesus.  The one who, as Jesus said:

Rev 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 

I don’t know what’s wrong.  I only feel like something’s drastically wrong.  There’s just too much silence.  And it feel like the silence of fear.  

But why?

Warnings and Encouragements

12:2-9 pp — Mt 10:26-33

Lk 12:1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Lk 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Lk 12:8 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Lk 12:11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Jesus said, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  The bully can kill the body.  The bully can even make us look bad.  But there’s one thing the bully cannot do.  Jesus told us who to fear.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.  That is not the bully.  That’s God.

However, the bully can, and does, try to lead us away from God.  And when we follow the bully too closely, then we may very well have to fear the one who has the power to throw you into hell.

So again – what are we afraid of?  Who are we afraid of?  And why?

Conclusion – Where are the peacemakers?  

Where are God’s peacemakers?  Who is answering God?  Where are the famous and well known Christian leaders who supported the bully?

Do we need to go back to the early church?  Meet in people’s houses?  Take our teaching directly from Jesus and the Apostles?  Go to smaller churches where the pastors aren’t beholden to the bully?

God is alive and well.  Jesus is still reaching out to us.  The Bible is there for us.  The Holy Spirit is, or can be in us.  God’s not afraid of the bully.  So why should we be?

Who will be God’s new peacemakers?

References

1 Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

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