Perhaps the Most Neglected but Most Needed Beatitude for This Moment

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” - Matthew 5:9


COVID 19 has provided fertile ground for conflict, lots of it. There are reports, for instance, of increased numbers of domestic violence and of “dramatically more severe” physical injuries.i “The number of people looking for divorces was 34 percent higher from March through June compared to 2019.”ii And, it’s even been suggested by the Journal of the American Medical Association that there is a link between the pandemic and the civil unrest we are currently experiencing in our country.iii

This is a great opportunity for the Church to be the Church and to show the world that there is a different way to live. This is a great opportunity for Christians to be the peacemakers we are commanded to be as we follow Jesus, the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is the greatest peacemaker. He makes peace between God and man by removing the guilt of our rebellion (our sin), the very thing that separates us from him; and he makes peace among followers of Christ by bringing us into a right relationship with God, the Father or all who are truly his (see especially Eph. 2:11-22).

And the good news of Jesus Christ is the greatest peacemaking message. The Christian who shares his faith, then, is a peacemaker.iv However, as New Testament commentator, D.A. Carson writes:

There is nothing in the context to argue that in Matthew 5:9 Jesus is restricting himself to gospel peacemaking. Rather, the disciple of Jesus Christ must be a peacemaker in the broadest sense of the term. The Christian’s role as peacemaker extends not only to spreading the gospel, but to lessening tensions, seeking solutions, ensuring that communication is understood.

Perhaps his most difficult assignments will take place on those occasions when he is personally involved. Then he will remember that ‘man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires’ (James 1:20), and that ‘a soft answer turns away wrath’ (Prov. 15:1).v

So, what does this mean for us? Several things.

First, a peacemaker must experience the peace of God before he can bring the peace of God to others. “The futility of Christians attempting to make peace when their inner lives are walking civil wars is evidenced by the logic that we can impart only that which we possess.”vi

Peacemaking means we intentionally look for opportunities in our spheres of influence to bring peace to situations in which there is existing conflict.

Second, peacemaking is different from being a peaceful person and different from being a peacekeeper. Peacemaking means we intentionally look for opportunities in our spheres of influence to bring peace to situations in which there is existing conflict. Instead of participating in a quarrel, we seek to put an end to it; instead of enjoying gossip or listening to rumors, we remind people that Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies.

Third, especially when we are personally involved in conflict, we need to stop short of guessing people’s motives. That rarely, if ever, results in the outcome commanded in Romans 12:18: “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Here’s why: we tend to assign positive motives to ourselves and negative ones to the person(s) we disagree with.

Some years ago, the pastor of a healthy, small-town church added fifteen minutes to the length of the morning worship service. There was some resistance as would be expected, but no one got really upset. Then the pastor told this story:

Church used to end at 10:30; now it ends at 10:45. One man sits near the back. Each week, he stands up precisely at 10:30, straightens his jacket and pants, and walks out. He never said anything, but I could feel his displeasure over the longer services. Indeed, sometimes I had to labor to stifle my anger at the weekly display. Then one week, I changed the order of worship and put the sermon first. The man still left at 10:30, but later that day his wife called.

“Pastor,” she said, “you can’t imagine how happy my husband was today. You see, he has to report to work at 10:45 on Sundays. He waits until the last possible minute each week, but it grieves him that he can never stay until the end of your message. Today he heard your whole sermon and is so pleased. I just had to tell you.”vii

We have many different opinions within our congregation about masks, singing, meeting in person, and more. We need to be careful not to suggest, for example, that one side “lacks faith” or the other side “doesn’t care about science.” We also need to be very careful about the way we use social media. I have never seen anyone win an argument on social media; instead, I have consistently seen ramped-up anger on both sides of the argument.

Fourth, we need to be very wary of conspiracy theories. There is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9.) The prophet Isaiah warned about conspiracy theories thousands of years ago:

For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread (Isaiah 8:11–13).

As I wrote at the beginning, this is a great opportunity for the Church to be the Church and to show the world that there is a different way to live. As we take up our peacemaking role, we will look very different from a world in conflict. We will look like Jesus, the “Prince of Peace.”


i Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, “Domestic Violence Rose During Lockdown,” August 18, 2020.

ii Elizabeth Rosner, New York Post, “US Divorce Rates Skyrocket Amid COVID-19 Pandemic,” September 1, 2020.

iii Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH; Salma M. Abdalla, MBBS, MPH, Journal of the American Medical Association, “COVID-19 Pandemic, Unemployment, and Civil Unrest,” June 12, 2020

iv D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: And His Confrontation with the World, 27.

v Ibid.

vi K. Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom, 67.

vii D. Doriani, The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple, 34.