Thursday, February 27, 2014

Two sides of the blessing

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

Are you happy? I hope so, because I like for people to be happy. In fact, I want everyone to be happy, all at the same time.

Which is not possible.

There is a term for someone who wants to make everyone happy, especially when he tries too hard. That term is people-pleaser. Well, there may be a more technical term - but that's the one I know.

I was talking to a friend early this week, and we were talking about how important it is for me to let someone know if I was going to be late. I ended my comments with the dismissive statement, "After all, I'm a people-pleaser."

Then my friend encouraged me with this: He said that he doesn't see me as a people-pleaser; he sees me as a peacemaker.

What a compliment, I thought. And then…not so much.

Why? Well, I think he hit on a profound truth about our lives as human beings created in the image of God. We have a flesh, a sin nature, that is consumed with self and pride. It is a distortion of the way were created, brought about by our desire to do things our way instead of God's. The technical term for it is, well, sin.

How does that apply here? I think that in each of the Beatitudes, Jesus was pronouncing a blessing on us that would show up every time we feed the right side of some human characteristic. In this case,
  1. God created us to be at peace.
  2. My flesh has turned that into a desire to keep people happy because I don't like conflict (making it all about me).
  3. Through the cross and the power of the Resurrection, Jesus can redeem that characteristic, making it what it was originally intended to be. A conduit for peace.
And if we can do that, if we can turn our fleshly desires into a  godly characteristic, then we are "blessed."

So yeah, I suppose it was compliment to say I'm a peacemaker. But not really, because it's not about me. It's God who takes my tendencies, redeems them, and turns them into something that can be used for his glory.

And that is the blessing.

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