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SM #9: Peacemaking & the Ministry of Mending (Part 2)

Updated: Feb 18


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ~ JESUS (Matthew 5:9)

NOTE: This is a follow-up post to our last 1820 study on peacemaking.



CORE (The heart of the message):


Peacemaking is inherently, actively, and energetically evangelistic. The Gospel is a message of Jesus making peace between us and God and giving us a way to live in peace with one another. Evangelism is the act of inviting people into this way of peace-full living. So, evangelism is an important part of being a peacemaker.


Some questions to be considered: Is evangelism a command and demand to be obeyed, or is evangelism more of an opportunity and encouragement to do what comes naturally? Since the Bible says some people in the church are called to be evangelists and apparently have a gift of evangelism, how can the rest of us best participate? And is it possible, even when writhing in the pain of our own sin or the failure of others around us, to still reach out to other hurting people as a peacemaker? Some of these questions we will address, while others we leave for us to ponder and discuss.



CONTEXT (What’s going on before and after this passage):


Jesus, the Son of God, is the ultimate peacemaker (Colossians 1:20), giving his life to unite us with God and each other. So when we work for peace, we are most like the child of God we were meant to be.


For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. ~ The apostle Paul (Colossians 1:19-22; also see Romans 5:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

We are called to be peacemakers because we follow the Peacemaker par excellence.


As we discussed in part 1 of this study, when we work for peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration of relationships within the Church, we are “mending our nets” which helps us be the “fishers of people” Jesus invites us to be outside the Church.


Although evangelism was a daily priority for the early Church, the New Testament has surprisingly few commands to evangelize. Aside from the Great Commission and one or two other passages, the Biblical writers mostly encourage Christian readers to reach out to others, not by commanding it, but in two ways:

  1. They paint such a beautiful picture of the Gospel that we become excited about sharing that message with others, and

  2. They share stories and examples of evangelism that inspire us to want to go and do likewise.


We will try to do a little of both in what follows. For now let’s be clear that the early Church grew through evangelism because the average Christian wanted to tell others about Jesus, not because they were told they had to. Something they were experiencing inspired their hearts, and their mouths followed.



CONSIDER (Observations about the passage):


[This section is covered completely in our previous 1820 study.]



COMMENTARY (Thoughts about meaning and application):


When Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers” he is blessing two activities:

  1. Working for reconciliation within the Church (the focus of our last 1820 study), and

  2. Carrying the Gospel outside the Church (the focus of this study).


The Good News of Jesus is a message meant to travel. The feet of those who carry it are beautiful.

How beautiful coming over the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” ~ The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15)
Stand firm then… putting on your feet a readiness to carry the gospel of peace. ~ The apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:14-15)

Whenever we share the Good News of Jesus, we are spreading peace, or at least the possibility of peace, between people and the God they either fear or have forgotten about. Shalom-making is inherently evangelistic. Peacemaking calls out to all Prodigal Sons and Daughters: “Come Home!”


The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. ~ The apostle John (Revelation 22:17)

Jesus was prophesied to be “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Then, from the very beginning of Jesus’ life, he is associated with peace. The angels tell the shepherds about the birth of their saviour, the Messiah, the Lord, and then add: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to the people” (Luke 2:14). Jesus is a peacemaker, a reconciler, vertically and horizontally.


So why is peacemaking at the core of the Gospel? Peacemaking points to the removal of relational roadblocks to allow for loving reconnection. That is the Gospel. There is no better news.


Let’s look at “the Gospel of Peace” in more depth, and hopefully, allow our souls to be encouraged by the reality that brings us all here….


Humankind is, in some sense, at war with God (not God with us). We are enemies in our minds (Colossians 1:21). We THINK God is our adversary. We THINK God is against us. We THINK God wants to limit our growth, hinder our happiness, and punish our misdeeds. We THINK we have messed up too much, or that God has allowed too many bad things to happen to us, for God to actually love us and want what’s best for us. So we as a species move further and further away from the God we have judged incorrectly (remember the story of Adam and Eve), even though at some deep level, we desperately desire intimacy with the Ultimate.


This is the human condition: we are running away from the One our hearts are searching for.


Religion both helps and hinders our God-quest. Religion uses readings, rules, regulations, rituals, and routines to help us connect with God. For many people, these rituals do exactly that – they help develop and express our heart-felt connection with God. For others, unfortunately, many of the religious rituals we put in place to help us connect with God end up just getting in the way and making God feel more distant.


All human structures, even structures God uses, have limited shelf-lives.

All religion comes with an expiration date.

New wine will always need new wineskins (Matthew 9:17).


In sum, we desperately desire the very Relationship we are afraid of, habitually run away from, find substitutes for, and/or contain within religious institutions, organizations, and rituals that have outlived their useful purpose. What a pickle.


And here comes Jesus. He gives us a clear vision of God as unconditional love, removes any sin and shame blockages between us and God, gives us the means to have communion with God and community with others, and does it all apart from any one religious institution. The guy is a freakin’ genius. What Jesus accomplishes and offers us all freely as a gift fits perfectly with the hunger of every human heart. There is no one and nothing like Jesus and his Gospel.


Jesus shows us the way home – in fact, Jesus is that way (John 14:6).

Jesus starts by correcting our stinking thinking and changing our hardened hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). Jesus shows us what God is really like (John 1:18; 12:45; 14:7-9) and the God he shows us is pure love (1 John 3:16; 4:7-21). God is with us – that is, for us and not against us (Matthew 1:23; Romans 8:31). So Jesus exposes and opposes the lie that God is our enemy and vividly demonstrates God’s love for us, even when we make ourselves his enemy (Romans 5:6-10).


Jesus then takes all our sin and shame and guilt to himself on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24), leaving nothing between us and God to separate us from God’s love any longer (Romans 8:31-39). Jesus shows us God’s unconditional love vividly by allowing humankind to do our worst to him and yet he does not retaliate. Jesus lives a life that embraces sinners and dies forgiving is killers (Luke 23:34) and then rises from the dead, not for justice, payback, retaliation or revenge, but to proclaim absolute forgiveness for everyone, no matter what we have done or failed to do (Luke 24:46-47). The resurrection of Jesus is God declaring that his love, and not our sin and shame, gets to have the last word in this world, stamped it no erasies. And through the grace of Jesus, we too can be resurrected into a new life – the meaning of the symbol of baptism (Romans 6:1-4).


We simply receive this gift of God’s grace by faith, that is, by trusting it is true (John 3:16; 5:24; Romans 5:1-2; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-10). When we BELIEVE the barrier between us and God’s love is removed, it IS removed, because the barrier always was within our minds and our hearts. God never stopped loving us – we stopped believing in God’s love for us, so we looked everywhere else for the love our souls crave. (Recall Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son. When the son came home again, he was able to really experience the celebratory and unconditional love of his father that had always been there waiting for him.) Faith – trusting it is true – is simply a matter of opening up to God’s love that has been and is always there for us. It’s like a real placebo effect – believing the Good News of God’s love for us and desire for us to be reconciled actually creates that reality, because it was our disbelief that was preventing us from experiencing the reality of reconciliation and reconnection with God’s love in the first place.


This faith or trust in Jesus includes rethinking who God is and realignment with his will and way (that’s repentance) and trusting Jesus to lead us in the way of love that we were always meant to live.


Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit who blows like the wind, filling our lungs with life. This Spirit isn’t a vague sense of general wellbeing or spiritual enthusiasm, but somehow the Holy Spirit brings the actual presence and power of Jesus to us (Matthew 18:20; 28:20; John 14:16-19; Acts 5:9; 8:39; 16:7; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11). We can sense the Spirit’s presence, experience the Spirit’s love, and be empowered with the Spirits gifts, but we can never contain the Spirit in this or that institution, any more than we can contain the wind (Luke 17:20-21; John 3:8; 4:21-24). Our experience of the God and his Gospel is bigger than any one building, institution, or organization can contain! This, too, is Good News!


The wind blows wherever it wants, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. ~ JESUS (John 3:8)

As people who have experienced and are experiencing a new life of radical forgiveness and reconciliation with God (remember, we needed to change our hearts toward God, not God toward us (he has always loved us unconditionally and completely), we naturally and eagerly want to share this Good News with others as ambassadors of reconciliation. We want others to learn about God’s absolute unconditional love for them and to change their thinking (that’s repentance), to receive God’s cleansing forgiveness, to be reconciled to God, and to then live in loving community offering others the reconciling grace that God has offered us (John 13:34; Romans 14:19; 15:7; Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:16).


This New Covenant community is not perfect, not sinless, not utopian in that sense, but it is, when healthy, always merciful, and always bringing lost sheep home (Matthew 18; Luke 15). The thing the Jesus community has that no other community or organization or institution or movement can offer is limitless love in the form of grace that redeems rather than rejects our broken lives. Sign – me – up. [See our 1820 studies in the category of "First Thoughts" for more on this.]


Peacemaking Jesus-followers say along with the apostle Paul:

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God! ~ The apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)

Through Jesus, everyone can access what we most want: God.


And, we have the opportunity to experience a relational miracle here and now. Because the Spirit of Christ floods our lives directly with God’s light and love, those of us who receive his Gospel can come together across racial and religious dividing lines. A new family is forged, and enemies become friends.


Here is one of the most powerful passages on this topic in the entire Bible:


For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by nullifying in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. ~ The apostle Paul (Ephesians 2:14-18)

For a fuller brain-exploding experience, read that passage again. Slowly. Take a few moments to meditate on its profound truth. Especially notice verses 15-16 – try reading it in different translations if possible. What is God highlighting for you?


Notice: “His Purpose…” The apostle Paul spells out the why behind the what of the cross, and it is all about “peace”, that is, reconciliation between divided parties. Jesus had a plan and purpose in going to the cross: peace. By crucifying the religious rules that kept Jews and Gentiles separate, Jesus made a new reality possible: a new kind of humanity, a new family, a new society, a new united body, a new way of being together in this world.


Christ has given us an entirely new way to be human. ~ Maximus the Confessor (Sixth/Seventh Century)

Also notice the order of the peacemaking power of the cross of Christ in Ephesians 2 above. Jesus’ plan and purpose is FIRST to reconcile us to one another. In this context, Paul is referring specifically to the reconciliation of earthly enemies: Roman oppressors, pagan Greeks, and other Gentiles being beautifully bonded together with the oppressed Jewish people – amazing grace. [See our 1820 study called “SM #6: Mercy Me” for more on this amazing grace.] According to this passage, God FIRST forms us into one body, one family, one human experience together in intimate community, one tribe with the love vibe, with Jesus as our head, our king, and the focal point of our faith. THEN God reconciles that corporate reality, that united community, that Body of Christ, that family of faith, to God as our Father. FIRST, Jesus connects us to one another. THEN, Jesus connects us, together, to God.


This isn’t a temporal order as much as it is an order of value and vision. And it is the reverse order than our Western individualistic minds might expect. We would expect this passage to say something like: “Through the cross God saves individuals who place their faith in Christ, reconciling each and every one of them to God, and then places them in the reconciled and unified body of Christ”. That would be amazing enough. But the passage is even more astonishing. God’s goal is reconciliation on the horizontal plane first and foremost. THEN Jesus reconciles us all together to God on the vertical plane. Wow. God obviously makes our reconciled, forgiving, grace-filled family-style relationships with one another his cosmic priority. God refuses to entertain the idea of separate individuals in an isolated yet intimate connection to God. God doesn’t desire to have a billion one-on-one relationships.


God wants and has always wanted a family.


Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount to pray to God as “Our Father”. And the apostle Paul once referred to God as “the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14-15). Let that settle in. God did not borrow the idea of family from us; he has loaned his idea to us! The Gospel of God has always been about expanding his family (Ephesians 1:5). The Gospel is not that you as an individual can live with God, but that you are invited into a beautiful family here and now that will accept you, walk with you, and experience God together with you.


When I think of the loneliness epidemic that we are all a part of, I can’t think of a more important message for our beautiful feet to carry far and wide.


Through Jesus, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2), peace from God (2 Corinthians 1:2), and the peace of God (Philippians 4:7).


Friends… This. Can. Change. The. World.


When we feel the urge to share this message of shalom, let’s not resist.



CONFESSION (Personal reflection):


I confess that I like the idea of evangelizing more than actually evangelizing. But it helps me to reframe evangelism in my mind: I now see evangelism less as merely announcing a message and preparing for any ensuing arguments or debates, but more as the invitation to lonely, isolated, and sin-separated people to come and experience the love of family together. Then evangelism becomes less about declaring and more about inviting, as an act of compassion.


Few Christians in recent generations have done this better than the Jesus People of the hippy generation. Now, I confess that I am a "Peace, Love, and Grooviness" Jesus hippy at heart. So, when the movie “Jesus Revolution” came out in 2023 I made sure to see it with family and friends . And by “see” I mean I cried my way through it four times in the theatres, then again multiple times when it came out on disc and streaming. I have been a student of this story my whole life – the story of the Jesus Movement that grew out of the Hippy Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.



(As a work of art and entertainment “Jesus Revolution” is a fine movie, a solid B+. But for my own soul, it is an absolute A+. The movie collapses and condenses so much of the story, as screenplays must, skipping over much of the conflict and human failure that permeated the movement. It is not a thorough docudrama of God’s work through flawed people, but it is an inspiring taste of the Spirit’s blowing at a time and place that can leave us wanting more in our own time and place.)


Since my childhood, I’ve heard the stories, sung the songs, vibed to the music, read the articles, and listened to the sermons that grew out of this revival. In more recent years, I read multiple books and watched documentaries on this amazing twentieth century revival, and I visited the places in California where it all began as a kind of personal pilgrimage. Throughout my teens and young adult years I listened to hours of sermons (on cassette and radio, and much later online) by the major players in this revival and it was amazing for me to see them come to life on the silver screen. Although I was a toddler when these events were taking place, I grew up feeling like their version of Jesus-following was my heart’s home and happy place. These were my people and this was my vibe tribe.


I was always aware that the movement was far from perfect (like any other period of Christian history). For instance, Lonnie Frisbee – a charismatic hippie evangelist who became the catalyst for the Jesus Movement – was a mess. God pulled him out of a life of sex and drugs and healed him of all addictions (we like that part of his testimony). Then later, even after God was using him to bring others to Jesus, he lapsed back into a life of sex and drugs (we are embarrassed about that part of his testimony). Eventually Lonnie repented and reconciled with his friends and ministry partners, like Chuck Smith and Greg Laurie (okay, we like this part again), before he died of AIDS (and we’re back to a part we prefer to ignore).


Time Magazine cover 1971 / Jonathan Roumie playing Lonnie Frisbee / Lonnie Frisbee

I used to think about Lonnie’s significant moral failures as an inconvenience to the story, and my way of emotionally dealing with the cognitive dissonance it created in me was to mostly ignore that aspect of Lonnie’s life. (I later became expert at compartmentalizing and living in denial of my own moral failure too. Practice makes perfect. Sigh.) But more recently, I have been paying closer attention to the ways God graciously uses saints who have experienced catastrophic moral failure – from the Patriarchs, to Samson, to Moses, to King David, to King Solomon, to the prophet Jonah, to the apostles Peter and Paul the “worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), to John Calvin and Martin Luther, to Martin Luther King Jr, and to Lonnie Frisbee. God has a pattern of redeeming rather than rejecting our broken lives, and these redemption stories now mean more to me than ever. (See more about the moral failure of Christian leaders in this study.)


The Jesus movement was messy, two steps forward and one step back, and they were learning as they went, while living and loving together.


Another aspect of the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s that always stood out to me, and the movie captures this well, is that the movement was inherently and enthusiastically evangelistic from the start. It didn’t have the chance to become too ingrown and self-centred as a movement, because they were always looking up to God and out to their neighbours simultaneously. They didn’t wait until they had their faith all figured out before inviting others to join them. At the movement's peak, hundreds of hippies and other were being baptized each week.


Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee leading ocean baptisms circa 1970
Jesus movement baptisms circa 1970

Look at these lyrics of a very early Jesus Movement song I remember singing as kid:


We're all gathered here Because we all believe If there's a doubter in the crowd We ask him not to leave Give a listen to His story Hear the message that we bring Feel the faith swell up inside you Lift your voice with us and sing

CHORUS: Accept Him with your whole heart And use your own two hands With one reach out to Jesus And with the other, bring a friend ~ Two Hands, by Love Song


Not a lot of biblical exegesis or rich theological depth here. But notice what is here – a simple song, sung at worship events, that invites non-believers to faith, and from the start bakes into that faith the encouragement to invite more friends. According to the book of Acts, this captures the “vibe” of the original Jesus Movement, that is, the early Church, simply called “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; probably drawing from Isaiah 40:3).


From the first generation of Jesus-followers, the Gospel (a message meant to be shared), was embraced, experienced, and extended to others as a message of PEACE, LOVE, and TOGETHERNESS. From the beginning, being a peacemaker meant being a natural evangelizer, a gospel-sharer. Jesus will go on to say in the Sermon on the Mount that we together ARE the light of the world. Light shines naturally – it’s what light does. It is the nature of light to shine, that is, unless we block the light by putting it under a bushel. And as peacemakers, early Jesus-followers always made peace by, among other things, sharing the Gospel of peace.


Some people in the early church were evangelists by gifting (Acts 21:8; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5). But the growth of the early Church didn't rest on a few gifted people. Every believer became salt and light to the world around them, in word and deed. They shared the Gospel gently and personally, simply allowing their own experience of togetherness with God and others to flow into their daily conversations and invitations (Colossians 4:2-6; 1 Peter 3:15-16).


All of this has me asking the question: what would a Jesus Revolution look like for this generation?


Personally, I have many days that leave me disillusioned with the institutional church. And yet, I have never been more in love with the organic church, the body of believers who are my extended spiritual family. And this experience of true spiritual rootedness in spiritual family is something I want more people to learn about.


Life moves in seasons, and right now for me is a season of turning inward and upward, focusing on repentance, healing, and restoration to wholeness for me and my family. I have a load of net-mending to do. But I also know that the power of God’s healing grace I am experiencing through loving connection with amazing Jesus People deserves to be shared, and I sense that the time is coming.


With one hand, I’m reaching out to Jesus. And with the other, I will bring a friend.



CONCLUSION (One last thought):


Before Chuck Smith died in 2013, Greg Laurie asked him if he thought we might one day see another Jesus Movement like they had both experienced decades earlier. Chuck's response was "I don’t know, Greg. I don’t know if we are desperate enough."


Greg Laurie reflects on Chuck's response:


"Like the Prodigal Son who had to hit rock bottom before realizing his sin and turning back to his father, a sense of desperation is often the catalyst that is needed for repentance. When we’ve tried everything else and nothing satisfies, we finally become open to listening to what God has to say." ~ Greg Laurie (Harvest.org)


I feel like I know a bit about what it's like to hit rock bottom. And I'm ready for Jesus to do something new and revolutionary. How about you?



CONTEMPLATE (Scripture passages that relate to and deepen our understanding of this topic):


Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 5:9-10; 8:31-39; 10:9-17; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 2; Colossians 1:19-22



CONVERSATION (Talk together, learn together, grow together):

  1. What is God revealing to you about himself through this passage?

  2. What is God showing you about yourself through this passage?

  3. What do you think a new Jesus Revolution might look like today?

  4. What is one thing you can think, believe, or do differently in light of what you are learning?

  5. What questions are you still processing about this topic?


Thank you for reading this overlong study, and for joining me in prayer for the next Jesus Revolution! PEACE, LOVE, & TOGETHERNESS!



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3件のコメント


ゲスト
2023年4月09日

Loved the Jesus Revolution movie!! I understand how you could see it 4 times!

いいね!

Wow! This is my first time reading a post. i’m a bit overwhelmed - so much to read - but I love the active nature of peacemaking you highlight. I will ruminate on it today.

Thank you. Thank the Lord you have the time to consider His words and share them with us - blessings for us, and through us blessings to others.

いいね!

I love the idea of "net mending". We are all called to it. It is rooted in the humility of fishers and gifted to us all through the ages. Thank you for this.

いいね!
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