CMC Eps 16 – MATTHEW 5:9 – PEACE, SHALOM, SALAAM, IRENE
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Hi.. I’m Gene Ort.. and you’re listening to the common man commentary..
This is podcast #16.. We will be looking at MATTHEW 5:9
The title for this podcast is: “ Peace, Shalom, Salaam, Irene ”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “
Lets just go ahead and flip this right off the bat :
Gene’s interpretation. :
If you find yourself having followed Christ for a while now. You have identified yourself as a child of God. Really listening to Jesus teaching and watching what he does and trying to both imitate him and learn from him, you will notice something happening in your inner and outer worlds. You will care about peace. You will seek it and bring it with you into every part of your life. You will become an agent of healing. You will become harder to offend. You will actively bring softness to hard situations. You will become a voice of reconciliation. You will become, a peacemaker.
When we follow Jesus, lots of things will change. That is to say they can change. It doesn’t mean they always do. Jumping to the end of the gospel, Jesus commissions his group to “ go and make disciples “ . Here’s the verse :
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””
Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
Make disciples, what does that really mean ? And teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you ?
The term disciple can be looked at like student or apprentice which appears to be very close to discipline. The problem with the word discipline is it has a negative connotation, it implies punishment. The verse we are looking at implies a much closer connection than student or apprentice, it implies family. “ Sons and I’ll add Daughter’s of God will be peacemakers “. Good parents are always teaching their children but they don’t call them students. I think this is more important than it might first appear to be.
There is a strong pull in the western institutional church for Christianity to feel more like affiliation with an organization or alignment with an ideology than a familial connection. Yes, Jesus teaches. He sets on the hillsides and in the synagogues and instructs but his relationship with his listeners is to become much more than educational.
Jesus also used another common word for his relationship to us. According to John, these were his words in John 15:15 – “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
So Jesus is addressing us as family and friends .. when we are close friends with someone, we often take on their habits, hobbies, values and interests. As family members, we can often take on their actual appearance. We say thing’s like :She has her mothers eyes.. and her fathers nose… so this can be an interesting way to look at this teaching.. if you have taken on the family traits, you will likely display the family character. Our God, is a God of peace, He sent Jesus to proclaim peace, by nature, He is peace. In Greek the word for it was Irene. The Jews had a word for it also, Shalom.
Shalom was there primary way of greeting each other and the last word before parting. It has a much bigger meaning than just the absence of conflict, but it certainly includes that. You can include in the meaning, harmony, wholeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility.
My grandfather, Harold used to greet me in an unusual way. He was not Jewish, but he would often say in greeting: Jeshua Hamashiach , which is to say Jesus the Messiah and I was taught to reply, Jehovah Shalom, which is to say The Lord send peace. This makes me smile every time i think of it.
Something interesting to note about language, particularly Hebrew, when you hear a phrase like “ son of peace “, it can be translated a “peaceful man “. So the often quoted words, “Son of God “ can also be translated as a God like man. As it relates to the verse in question, you can say, “blessed are the peacemakers, they are doing a Godlike work.”
During Jesus time on the earth, there was a group called the zealots. They believed that the restoration of Israel and the coming of the Messiah would happen through military action. There were lots of these zealots around, they were a part of his audience that day on the hillside. In the not to distant future there would arise a famous apostle of Jesus from this zealot group. His name was first Saul and then Paul. Paul was a Pharisee. They advocated active resistance and violence against the Roman occupiers. The message of peace would not be one easily embraced by this group. Non violent opposition is always a-posed by the zealots. They usually use violence to try and squash it. They used that method on Jesus and again on Martin Luther King Junior and many more like them. There is a bit of irony here.. Preaching and living a message of peace will likely get you killed.
Another perspective about this verse had to do with the larger meaning of Shalom. It’s meaning in part to bring a person the highest good. Those who bring Shalom, make this world a better place to live in for everyone. This is something we have all been hearing about most of our lives through great leaders and artists of every kind.
I can think of a few easily:
“What the world needs now, is love sweet love.. no not just for one, but for everyone “ Jackie DeShannon :1965.
Gandhi said : “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Michael Jackson sang : “I’m looking at the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways “
Abraham Lincoln said: “Die when I may, I would like it to be said of me that I always pulled up a weed and planted a flower where I thought it would grow. “
Both Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln were assassinated.
The common theme here, Make the world a better place.. It would appear that this is also God’s idea. When we are at our best as humans, we mimic this Godlike attribute.
Another perspective on this verse is inward or spiritual. Yes, there is an outer war but there is also an inner war. Everyone is fighting an inner conflict. Good and evil.
William Barclay says it this way : “we are always tugged in two directions at once; everyone is … at least to some extent … a walking civil war.”
Inner peace. You don’t have to look far to find someone talking about this. Mental and emotional health are being talked about continuously and for good reason. Anxiety, depression, insecurity’s just to name a few ..seem to be the default state of the human race.
There is an old Cherokee Indian story about a grandfather teaching his grandson about life. He tells the boy, there is a great fight going on inside me. It’s a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil.. he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person too. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, Which wolf will win ? The old Cherokee simply replied, The one you feed “.
I think Jesus would like this story. This passage we are looking at is saying much the same thing. When we feed on God.. the bread of life .. to use bible language, we are feeding the second wolf.
One meaning for certain about this passage is building peace in our relationships and helping others learn to build peace in theirs.
There is a great danger in being overly passionate about any great cause. In your zeal to concur the enemy, you can inadvertently take on the same traits as the enemy. The supposed ends justifying the means. We can fight many battles and end up losing the war.
Jesus never compromised his values in his proclamation of truth and at first glance, he lost the battle. But then it became clear that He had won the war. These same circumstances are at play in the world today. If you fight evil with evil, you become evil.
Most fights don’t start but throwing punches, they start by throwing words. There are underlying emotions that are being brought to boil and eventually explode into rage at some level.
Victor Frankle, was a famous psychologist and writer who survived 4 nazi concentration camps in WWII. His first hand experience with wickedness and evil are nearly unparalleled. He speaks in his book, Man’s Search for meaning about this moment or event when the fires of emotion are being brought to boil as a stimulus. Here is his quote: “Between stimulus and responce there is a space. In that space is the power to choose our responce. In our responce lies our growth and our freedom.”
This space between .. has become a preoccupation for me. For me, immediate reaction to a stimulus or what ever the offensive event might be implies the smallest of space possible. Where responce requires lots of space for thoughtful contemplation. This kind of open space is where peace lives. In this space, compassion, kindness, long suffering, and patience have time to grow.
I had a counselor once who taught me a simple management tool. When someone or something in your world grabs the knob to the burner under your pot, you can say to yourself .. “ wait a minute! “. Pause !..
I once herd Rick Warren in a discussion on emotional maturity say : when you have an intense emotion, you have to “name it, in order to tame it. “. That takes space.
All rolled together, these teachings are describing the conditions that need to be present within you to experience any kind of real inner peace that could have a chance to impact your outer world and define you as a peacemaker. This is the path of becoming a peacemaker…
Well thats enough to think about for now..
Until next time .. I am Gene Ort and Thank you for listening to the common man commentary.
I’D LIKE TO LEAVE YOU WITH This “ blessing :
Love God. Love Yourself. Love the next person He puts in front of you.