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The Transformational Gospel of Jesus #17: Where is this spiritual journey taking us?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. -Matthew 5:9

Ferguson. Tulsa. Dallas. Immigration. Gun laws. Injustice. Personal civil rights. Toss out any of these subjects into a group of random Americans and feel the tension rise in the room. Even if those present share the same point of view, the opinions shared are often tinged with frustration, anger—even hate.

I sometimes wonder how Jesus would handle these times and then it hits me. These are the reasons for which I—we—have been transformed. We are the people who are to be the peacemakers. The line Jesus’ beatitude traced out was to bring us from spiritual poverty to being the people who turned the world upside down. Not as rebels with a cause, but as those who want to bring God’s peace into hostile situations. You know that you are further on this journey when you want to end injustice. To bring divided people together and repair the damage that sin has had on our culture. And if you do not feel this way now, just wait, because this is where the Father is going to take you by transforming you through the good news of the kingdom!

But to be clear on this beatitude, Jesus was not just out there making peace between rioters and the authorities. Some of the stuff he taught raised hackles and brought out the worst in his enemies. Peace was not just a transactional issue for him. He was the peace himself. His life contained the shalom—literally the wholeness—that people needed themselves but could not get until they responded to his call to die to themselves. To put their faith in him.

Why? Because they were broken and didn’t know how to become whole. Like us, they found themselves bound by cultural prejudices and practiced injustices and unforgiveness as naturally as breathing. By receiving him and surrendering to his good news, they—and we—start this journey towards being conformed to his image by the empowering work of the Spirit. Our eyes are opened. What we really are is revealed to us, not to demean us, but so we will have hope in the glory of God. The outcome is that we become peacemakers like Jesus.

In being our peace, Jesus broke down the walls of hostility, Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:14. He gave us access to the Father and restored the broken relationships between us. When we find ourselves joining him in being whole, we are truly revealed to be what we are—the children of God. And by becoming what we are, we find that God has empowered us by the Spirit to proclaim this shalom of Jesus to the wretched, the proud, the hostile, the hurting, the haters so they can be changed as well.

Frankly, when you get to this place, you will find that not only do you love differently, you will also grieve for people who have not allowed themselves to know God’s love because of their choices. You will want them to be whole. You will proclaim the Good News to them in hope that they will take the same journey you did. Some will and others won’t. Your world will be a bitter-sweet place.

I encourage you to not shake your head and say it will never be true for you. Perhaps you are not very far down the journey yet. You still see your life in terms of the grip that your sin choices have made. You are hard-bitten or remorseful or doubtful. Be assured that your destination is not determined by your present state. It is predetermined by God. Since He has planned this for you, it will come to pass as you surrender yourself to His process.This is when you know you are living out this blessing.

Steve Smith