The last couple of weeks has me thinking a lot about identity. It doesn't take much to see that we're a culture obsessed with labels, whether ones we identify ourselves with or ones that we ascribe to other people. Subcultures and communities are built around them, but they also serve as a way to push us away from each other. Bumper stickers are a great reminder of this. I can size you up in ten seconds to determine whether or not to give you a pass for cutting me off. You got a Jesus fish? Well forget the road rage, we're on the same team! A CoExist sticker? What now? I'll CoExist your tail for the next five miles.
I think maybe we do operate like that sometimes though. And well, I do want to be identified with Jesus.
I want to be known as a child of God.
Most of the time at least. I want to be identified as a child of God in the way Jesus described a child of God. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9
The peacemakers, aye?
If I want to be identified as a child of God then it's important that I am a person who is actively seeking peace with others. Actively seeking peace with others, it seems, requires a posture of humility, which probably won't involve defending my rights. In fact, I can't think of any time that Jesus talked about defending his.
"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God, and died a criminal's death on a cross." Philippians 2:6-8
How's that for rights?
Sometimes, to actively pursue peace, we have to give up our rights and close our mouths.
When the soldiers and officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees came to arrest Jesus, Peter tried to defend him with a sword, cutting off a man's ear. Jesus not only told him to put his sword away but healed the man as well. Then, he was subjected to all kinds of insults, abuse and a criminal's death. He could have shown his power by having the angels come and slay every one of his enemies. But this wasn't the way his kingdom was built. The offensiveness of Jesus is in the fact that he shows us that the power structures of this world are not really where power is found. It doesn't mean we don't stand for anything. Jesus defended others all the time. He stood for those that had no voice to stand for themselves.
The diseased and crippled.
Those caught in sin and those known as sinners.
And yes, Jesus stands for us.
In our helplessness and shame.
In our sin and lowliest of low places.
Jesus stands for us.
This is the God I am so proud to know. The God that actively sought peace with humanity through giving up his rights and dying in our place.
Maybe being a peacemaker looks less like standing up for him, and more like standing with him. Taking on his posture.
Giving of ourselves.
Yes, I want to be labeled a child of God, but I want God to be the one defining the terms.
What are some ways that we can be active peacemakers?