a New Christianity

Peacemakers: What is a Peacemaker?

As we continue our look at the 7th Beatitude, from the Gospel of Matthew, let us broaden our focus a little bit from just the word peace, to the word which we find in the verse, ‘peacemakers’. In the Greek text, the word which has been translated into peacemakers is eirenopoios. As we would expect (by looking at the resulting English word ‘peacemakers’,) eirenopoios is a compound word formed from eirene and poieo. Following these expectations, it is no surprise that eirene is translated as ‘peace’, and poieo is translated as ‘makers’. Since we’ve already looked at peace, and will come back to it again, for now, let’s look at poieo to try and get a better sense of what a peacemaker is.

The word poieo translates specifically as ‘to make’ or ‘to do’. While Yeshua, in His teachings encouraged us to ‘make peace’ with our brothers, or even with those whom we have disagreements with, our closer examination of the definition of the word peace (from the previous article Peacemakers: What is Peace?) calls into question whether this is what Yeshua had in mind with this Beatitude.

The very idea that peace is an inner fulfilling sense of contentment leads me to wonder how I could ‘make peace’ for someone else. Simply put… I can’t. If you recall in a previous article, I talked about the ‘plate of cookies’. In that article, I was referring to the Father’s joy and peace. Imagine a plate of cookies sitting in the middle of a round table. The cookies never spoil, and never run out. You are seated at the table, and the Father invites you to “help yourself” to a cookie. The people sitting on either side of you have been given the same invitation, yet they won’t take one. They also make it quite clear that you shouldn’t have one either. Whether this is because they don’t think that they are worthy, or they think that it may be a trick (after all – these cookies never spoil – that isn’t natural) can be difficult to determine; but regardless of the reason why, they won’t take a cookie, and they don’t think that you should either. Yet the Father’s invitation stands; “have a cookie”. At this point, you are faced with a decision. You see, no one is going to have a cookie for you. You must make the decision for yourself, whether or not you are going to take a cookie. Of course, this will go against the advice and objections of those sitting beside you. They will probably even try and stop you from taking it, but when it comes down to it, you must decide for yourself.

So it is with peace. The very inner nature of peace means that only you can decide to have peace or not, for yourself. I may suggest that you should have peace, and the Father certainly invites you to have it, but we won’t force this peace upon you. Like the plate of cookies, the peace is already there, waiting to be experienced, but you must choose to do so. It is for this reason that if we are going to accept the term ‘maker’ as the translation of poieo it would be under the subheading of “to acquire; to provide a thing for one’s self”. This may well be what Yeshua intended to teach us in this Beatitude.

The Greek word poieo has also been translated as ‘to do’. This makes sense in the context of our look at peace; and the fact that it can’t be brought about without the use of our self-control. Almost like the habit of brushing your teeth, or washing your dishes immediately following dinner, these things become routine, regular activities and once they become habits, we get to the point where we don’t have to think about doing them anymore. People who have the habit of self-control just do it. They don’t think about it because they don’t have to – it’s automatic. It might be that these are the people which Yeshua was pointing out to us in this Beatitude, as an example to try to follow: people who just ‘do’ peace. In either case, whether you translate poieo as ‘to make or acquire’ or ‘to do’; the fact remains clear that the peace Yeshua is teaching about is found within.

We’ll come back to our discussion of ‘peacemaker’ in a moment, but let’s take a brief look at a different word: emergency. Even as I write the word, I begin to picture flashing lights and imagine sirens going off. A traffic accident? A fire? A ‘life or death’ medical situation? These and other situations are grouped together and called emergencies. But if we look past the lights and the sirens to the root word, the question is this: Who or what has emerged? It might seem like a funny question at first glance, but it bears further consideration. If the root word of emergency is emerge, then in a crisis situation, who or what has emerged? The answer of course, is a ‘leader’. Take the situation of a traffic accident. After a traffic accident has occurred, someone will step forward and help establish some sense of order, out of the chaos. They will survey the scene and begin to establish needs and priorities: has anyone called 911? Is anyone hurt? Is there ongoing danger from other traffic, leaking fuel, or downed power lines? They will form plans and begin to work through the situation carefully and quickly to try and restore some sense of order as they wait for official help to arrive. A ‘natural leader’ has ‘emerged’ from the chaos. It wasn’t something anybody voted on, it was just someone who kept their head and began to work through the situation.

The same can be said of the ‘peacemaker’. This isn’t someone who has rushed into a crisis or problem situation and screamed “everybody just have peace now…I am the peacemaker.” Instead as they enter into such a situation, they naturally maintain their calm and sense of inner contentment, and do what they can to help. (Sometimes, their calming presence alone is enough to help resolve the situation.) No one voted for them or selected them as the peacemaker, their natural abilities and presence simply stood out in the midst of the chaos.

What is a peacemaker? A peacemaker is someone who has acquired the inner fulfilling sense of contentment that the Father offers, for themselves; someone who ‘does’ peace. They don’t really make it, they simply accept the Father’s invitation to have peace and become the example for others to follow, naturally.

Now that we have effectively defined what a peacemaker is, the next logical question is this: What is a child of God? We’ll look at that question in our next article.

Grace and peace to you all,