Bonhoeffer on Peacemaking

This is one of the beatitudes we can easily understand. Peace is a blessing and something that we all long for. However, peacemaking is not easy, as we have to renounce our own will and replace it with the will of God.  We all want peace, but do we want to make peace?

finally human

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Jesus’ followers are called to peace. when Jesus called them, they found their peace. Jesus is their peace. Now they are not only to have peace, but they are to make peace. To do this they must renounce violence and strife. Those things never help the cause of Christ. Christ’s kingdom is a realm of peace, and those in Christ’s community greet each other with a greeting of peace. Jesus’ disciples maintain peace by choosing to suffer instead of causing others to suffer. They preserve community when others destroy it. They renounce self-assertion and are silent in the face of hatred and injustice. That is how they overcome evil with good. That is how they are makers of peace in a world of hatred and war. But their peace will never be greater than when they encounter evil people…

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Blessed to Mourn?

“Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

Blessed means exceedingly happy, and it’s hard to imagine anyone being happy during a time of mourning.  However, as I thought about this, I remembered a young man who had been my coworker.  When his father died unexpectedly, he told me, “You never realize how many friends you have until somebody dies.”  There’s some truth in that.  In the busyness of life we often forget to make time for others, but when death occurs, family and friends rally around.  We are all reminded that relationships and love are the things that really matter, It’s certainly a comfort and a blessing to know we’re not alone, that others care for us.

Mourning is a time to reflect.  I found when my mother died, as I sorted through her photos, I also remembered my childhood, the personality traits and interests we shared; the birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, family reunions and other important events in our life together. I cried some and laughed some.  I hadn’t thought about those things in a long time, but they are part of what made me who I am.  That has been a blessing to me.

Mourning is a time to turn to God.  Nothing comforts me more than the rituals and routines of my faith life.  Nothing means more than the assurance that mom is with Jesus, and one day I will be with Him as well.  Nothing eases the pain so much as knowing she is no longer stuck in a body that doesn’t work, and with a brain that can’t think.  These are the greatest blessings of all.

The Bible tells us that God works all things out for our good, and that includes mourning.

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”  Psalm 126:6

Blessed Are the Merciful by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ These men without possessions or power, these strangers on Earth, these sinners, these followers of Jesus, have in their life with him renounced their own dignity, for they are merciful. As if their own needs and their own distress were not enough, they take upon themselves the distress and humiliation of others. They have an irresistible love for the down-trodden, the sick, the wretched, the wronged, the outcast and all who are tortured with anxiety. They go out and seek all who are enmeshed in the toils of sin and guilt. No distress is too great, no sin too appalling for their pity. If any man falls into disgrace, the merciful will sacrifice their own honour to shield him, and take his shame upon themselves.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Hungry for What?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied Matt. 5:6

It’s hard to ignore hunger, isn’t it?  When we’re really hungry it becomes difficult to work or concentrate or focus on anything else.  Hunger becomes insistent.  If it isn’t satisfied, it begins to consume us (literally).  In the verse above, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, and one of what we call the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us about one hunger only He can satisfy — a hunger for righteousness.

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According to my Bible dictionary, righteousness is “inherent or imputed guiltlessness before God.”  In layman’s terms you might say it is being made right with God;  or being declared “not guilty” in God’s eyes.  We all know we can’t do that on our own.  All the good deeds, all the striving to avoid sin, all the confessions and church services and Bible study in the world won’t get us there.  For that, we need a savior.  Only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for each one of us can close the yawning gap between us and God.

So the question is, do you hunger to be saved?  Do you hunger for Christ?  I have to say, too often, I hunger for worldly things because they seem so much more immediate. After all, I need a house and a car and someone to love me right now!  I’ll attend to that spiritual hunger later, when I have more time, when my other hungers have been sated.  The problem is, later never seems to come;  and the truth of the matter is, we do find the time for things we really care about.  Don’t we care about Him?  He should be first on our hunger list.

Be right with God now.  Put the Kingdom first.  You’ll be satisfied.  The rest will follow.