I use to spend every working day calling people who have defaulted on their student loans and try to help them get into an affordable arrangement that will aid them in bringing their loans out of default. Some people want help, others would rather run from it. But one thing is noted, each went to school to pursue an education with the hopes of gaining employment in the field they majored in (or at least hoped the diploma would grant them a better job than they would get without one). I would contact beauticians, doctors, attorneys, fast food workers, private business owners, etc. And most of the time, they are not in the field their parents are in. They educated themselves and took a different vocational path. We can do that, especially here in America with the financial aid that is available to almost anyone; but the world in which Jesus lived was drastically different. Most of the time your occupation was chosen for you. You knew what you would be when you grew up because it was whatever your dad did for a vocation. Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter by trade, so guess what Jesus learned? Yep! Carpentry! Like Father Like Son.
It was in the midst of this cultural reality that Jesus preached His epic sermon; what we now refer to as the “Sermon on the Mount”. It is with this backdrop that He said, “The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called the sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9) He tells us clearly that God is all about making peace, and if we do the same then we are truly God’s sons as we are following in the vocational footsteps of our Father.
On the surface, we like the way this sounds, but if we are going to follow the steps of The Father, we have to see not only what He was for, but how He was for bringing it about. We name large guns and weapons of mass destruction names like “Peace-keeper”. We have the ingrained mentality that the way to make peace is only done through making war. After all, isn’t that what we (at least here in America) claim is our goal when we go to war? By defeating the bad guys in war we theoretically will obtain a peaceful existence. But that isn’t how our Father made peace. In Colossians 1:19-20 we are given a glimpse of how The Father makes peace:
“For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him [Jesus],
and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross- whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
Did you see it? Our Father doesn’t bring peace by making the bad guys die, but rather by dying for them. This is quite the antithesis of George S. Patton Jr. who said, “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.”
You see, near the end of chapter Jesus’ sermon, He says something that is jolting – “Love your enemy”. He tells His hearers to pray for those who persecute them. This persecution wasn’t merely a forbidding of public prayer in public schools. This persecution was physical abuse, public derision, and even death. This was real persecution like what is faced in other countries today, yet practically completely unknown to American Christianity. Jesus says that praying for our persecutors, loving them, will show us to be children of our Heavenly Father. Jesus also modelled this for us as He suffered His undeserved, excruciating death on the cross at the hands of His enemies as He prayed for their forgiveness.
This is how God makes peace. This is how we are called to make peace. Will you follow your Dad?