“Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
Arya Stark, in the book and now television series, Game of Thrones, is famous because she has a list of names she mutters night after night as prayer to her gods in order never to forget them. Arya hopes to kill these people eventually. So each night before she drifts off to sleep she recites the names: Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei Lannister, Sir Walder, Meryn Trant, Tywin Lannister, Mellisandre , Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr , Ilyn Payne, The Mountain, Sandor Clegane. She is zealous in her prayer life. She is committed to her cause of revenge.
Many scholars believe this beatitude is a direct response to a religious movement of the day, a group called the zealots. In fact, one of the disciples, Simon, was a member of this group before he became a disciple. They believed the revolution of Judaism would happen only through violence. There plan was to bring about the Kingdom of God through holy war, through planned attacks, and through forcing the issue with their zealous belief that dying a martyrs deaths to bring about God’s kingdom was an acceptable practice. This sounds very similar to some of the radical groups we read about in the paper today.
What is even more troubling about this zealous way of thinking then and now is who participates. The people who are most likely to follow a violent way of living to bring about a change are the poor, marginalized, and downtrodden. That was the case then and appears to be the case today. How many misguided people long to be a “son of God” through extreme action? How many people do we watch on television that believe the only way to be heard is through violence? But God in this beatitude says the sons of God, the children of God are the peacemakers.
David Gushee and Glen Stassen said, “Being a peacemaker is part of being surrendered to God, for God brings peace.” We call Jesus the Prince of Peace. We, as followers of the way, pray nightly for peace in our lives, in our families, and in our country. But my question as we look toward living the virtuous life is, “what are you doing to bring about peace?”
Who is your example today of a peacemaker? How do they act? What are their best qualities? Gushee and Stassen go on to say that as peacemakers we must, “abandon the effort to get our needs met through the destruction of enemies…we participate in God’s grace as we go to our enemies to make peace.”
Do you have a list of your enemies? Do you pray for them daily? Do you pray God’s grace upon them to bring about peace? Are you looking for ways to bring about peace with your enemies?
It is the way of the kingdom of God that leads to virtuous living!