In Matthew 5:9 Jesus says "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
Luke 12:51-53 Jesus says "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."
These two verses are one of the few examples of scripture that seemingly contradicts itself. What I have learned is that when there are two scriptures that are supposedly contradictory, there is actually a hidden lesson behind them that we can learn from. There are other "contradicting verses" that I have trouble with but faith that there is an answer. My take on these two verses is that Jesus wants us to make peace with others as much as we possibly can but there will be times where peace just won't happen. Especially when someone claims a belief in absolute truth. Most of America, if not most of the world, has a relativistic view on truth. Absolute truth is viewed as intolerant. Those who view tolerance as the ultimate virtue do not tolerate those who believe in absolute truth. If we believe in Jesus we believe in absolute truth because Jesus himself said that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come unto the Father but through Him. This claim can throw people off and cause them to passively dismiss Jesus by questioning whether He ever said stuff like that at all. (that's a whole other issue).
This divide between the absolutist and the relatavist is what Jesus is talking about when we apply it to current America. Still, in the midst of this divide we can come together, dialogue and love each other. It has to be intentional though or else it will never happen. The divide makes it harder and this is one of the reasons why christians tend to congregate and make their own bubble where they can have their own christian world. I have never liked this. I've always had friends who were not christians and I've always felt that divide between us but I try my best to be a peacemaker and not live in a bubble.
One of the wisest sayings I have heard is that "peace is not the absence of conflict". Many believe that peace should either be all or nothing and that it can be fully achieved through human will. I don't think peace will ever fully happen until Jesus returns. Until then we can experience pockets of peace here and there. The more we seek out peace the more we will have it. People like Ghandi have acted out in the character of Jesus and it has brought out a season of peace. You may call me a pessimist but the realist in me knows that peace is only for a season. That season being an hour or a couple of centuries.
There is a weird dichotomy about the christian's pursuit of peace. It is a double edged sword... kind of. Matthew 5:9 and Luke 12:51 kind of represent both sides. On one hand, the christian has the ultimate source of peace. That source is found in our relationship to Jesus, the prince of peace. Phillipians 4:6,7 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." On the other hand, we can experience a lack of peace with others who do not view truth the same way as us. This includes christians disagreeing with christians(especially on matters other than the core beliefs). We must be at peace with that and love them anyways. We must also be at peace with the fact that we will only experience peace within ourselves for seasons here and there. I do belive however that those seasons can become larger and larger as we mature in our relationship with Jesus. Then again, I could be wrong about that and I must be at peace with that possiblity. I'm starting to digress...
Lord Jesus, help us to be peace makers and messengers of the gospel of peace in the power and love of your spirit, amen.
11 months ago