There needs to be a desire to create a culture of Peace on the earth:
“How honored[i] are the Peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Mat 5:9)
Bahan PA UEM General Assembly Yogjakarta
Steps to be followed:
Read Mat 5:9 carefully (3 minutes)
Discuss the questions below (10 minutes)
Read the explanation (7 minutes)
End this bible study with a discussion on the final summary (10 minutes) 1. Read Mat 5:9 2. Question: Why do you think that the culture of peace has to be createdintentionally? 3. Explanation
Though the stage of the interrelationships among the created beings has been revised by God in the post-flood period, humans’ status as beings created in God’s image is maintained (Gen 9:1-7). Therefore humans never lose the knowledge of God. Thus in all areas of life, humans have to decide whether they want to follow God’s way or their way.[ii]
Based on God’s experience in dealing with the living creatures since the creation period, God understands that humans have a tendency to follow their own ways of thinking and the inclinations of their hearts which are evil already (Gen 6:5; 8:21). Therefore we do not need to be surprised if violence is omnipresent (Gen 6:11-13). God’s love for God’s created beings makes God take the initiative to make a covenant with living creatures (Gen 6:18-19; 9:9-17), otherwise these living creatures will destroy not only themselves but also the whole creation.
Though God is quite pessimist about humans’desire to follow God’s way, however we, human beings are the ones who do the actions, you and I. We are the ones who have to decide which way we want to follow. God’s way that bring us to a situation of peace or our own way that brings us to a situation of chaos.
Because peace belongs to God, therefore the culture of peace is the culture of God where justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing streams (Amos 5:24).[iii]
In order to decide, the kind of thinking and way of living to be used here is either-or: not both-and. There is no middle road of compromise that combines both. We have to decide which one to follow and then take responsibility for our choice. We have to start to decide! This is the first step but very important! There is a process before we decide something. Yes, that is true. However the process itself also has to be created or done purposely. So that we know for sure what we want to be, which way needs to be followed and what we have to do. Live in the messy world which we are in now where violence is not considered as sinful; where violence is considered as something that is normal, the culture of peace has to be purposely created. Creating the culture of peace has to start from us, we need to train ourselves intentionally to be peacemakers. To be a peacemaker someone needs to have peace within him/herself. Since a lot of us here have called ourselves children of God, is it not the case that the culture of peace is supposed to be prevalent in this world rather than the culture of violence?
How honored are the Peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Mat 5:9).
This is one of Beatitudes (makarisms) that is part of the sermon in the mount which is written in Matthew 5-7. Based on the fundamental difference between makarisms and blessing thus I can say that there is no nuance of reward in this saying, instead it is just stating a fact.[iv] Somebody who is a peacemaker, he or she must be a child of God.
Children of God are the ones who follow God’s way,[v] the ones who understand him/her-self as a created being and God as Creator, the ones who live in the spirit.[vi] Therefore to be a peacemaker, somebody has to be born again. No wonder Jesus is considered as the best example of a peacemaker,[vii]
Who, though he was in the form of God,
Did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
But emptied himself, taking the form of a slave
Being born in human likeness
And being found in human form,
He humbled himself,
And became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8).
Now, it is time to decide whether God’s way or our own way has to be practiced on earth. If it is God’s way, we have to be born again by emptying ourselves and be obedient to God, and the culture of peace will exist where all people are the peacemakers. We are able to achieve this stage for being created in God’s image is still humans’ status- but if we choose our own way where our minds and hearts are full of evil- the culture of violence where we live now is maintained till God intervenes. We have a right to choose and remember
There needs to be a desire to create a culture of Peace on the earth.
Final summary (10 minutes)
Do you think we are able to create the culture of peace on earth? Give your reasons!
[i] Hanson points out that makarisms (or beatitudes) are not the same as blessing. However to understand makarisms one must examine them in terms of their relationship with the blessing and honor /shame value system of Mediterranean. Honor is a positive social value- it is not simple self-esteem or pride; it is a status claim that is affirmed by community. It is tied to the symbols of power, sexual status, gender and religion. Thus, it is a social system. Honor in Hebrew is asyrey- and makarios in Greek. They are fundamentally an affirmation made by an individual or community about someone else. Blessing is barukh in Hebrew and eulogemenes in Greek. Makarios may be related to blessing but is not synonymous with the terms for blessing. Makarisms are fundamentally different from blessing: they are not words of power; they are not limited to pronouncements by God or cultic mediators; they only refers to humans, and never to god or non-human object; they do not have their setting in ritual; and one does not pray for makarisms, or refer to oneself with a makarism. They are not joyous emotion either. There are three usages makarism in the Old Testament: congratulation for success; congratulation for behavior and congratulations fop those who trust in God. See: KC Hanson, “How Honorable! How Shameful!” A cultural Analysis of Matthew’s Makarisms and Reproaches,” Semeia 68, 1994, 81-112. Based on the explanation above therefore I did not translate this makarism into blessing formula by using blessed as an opening word, instead I use “how honored.” Of course this translation means that my understanding of the content and goal of this makarism is to the “present” situation and not to the future at all. And this is not something offering reward (like blessing) but just stating a fact. Though Collins realizes the difference between makarisms and Blessing however the way he understands Mat 5:3-11 is from blessing formula point of view and considers the present and the eschatological hope is there, see: Raymond Collins, “Beatitudes,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. I, 629-31; cf. Hans Dieter Betz, “Sermon on the Mount/ Plain,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 5, 1106-1112; see also Günter Bornkamm, Jesus of Nazareth, 76-77;R. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament I, 20-1; Wolfgang Schrage, The Ethics of the New Testament, 144-5; Paul D. Hanson, The People Called, 402-3.
[ii] Cf. the idea of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Gen 2:9, 17; 3:5. See more explanation on this in Howard N. Wallace, “Tree of Knowledge and Tree of Life,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 6, 656-660. Cf. Rom 7:14-25.
[iii] In Hebrew Bible, an understanding of a noun form- justice (mishpat) and righteousness (tsedaqah) are inter-mingled, sometimes these two nouns are used interchangeably in a sentence or a line of poetry, sometimes they are used to complement each other to show the existence of God’s way that God’s commands to be followed by God’s followers, see Isa 1:17; 30:18; 33:22; 56:1; 61:8; Deut 32:4; Pss 33:5; 37:28; 89:15; 97:2; Job 34:12; 37:23; Mic 3:1; 6:8; .Prov 21: 15; 29:4; cf. Gen 18:25 and Job 8:3. These two noun forms most of the time are connected with two other noun forms, there are steadfast love and peace, see: Pss 33:5; 37:28; 72:7; 85:11;89:15; 97:2; Deut 32:4; Isa 16:5; 32:16, 17; Jer 9:23.
[iv] See: Theodore Robinson, The Gospel of Matthew, 27
[v] Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ love us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, see Eph 5:1. Cf. 2 Cor 6: 14-8; Cf. Robinson, Matthew, 31-2.
[vi] Peace is one of the fruits of the spirit, though I think all spirit’s fruits that are stated in Gal 5:22-23 are interrelated to each other. One fruit can not stand without the others.
7. See Eph 2:15; 2 Cor 5:18-20; Heb 2:17; Rom 3:25; 5:11; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Col 1:20.