First and foremost, I want to make sure that anyone reading this post does not think I'm trying to take something away from the law enforcement community. I'm currently serving in law enforcement and feel that intentions to use this scripture out of context are done so with honor and commitment to the communities we serve. However, as someone that sees scripture as authoritative for the reproof, correction and for the instruction in righteousness, I can't overlook when it is used out of context for which it was given to us.
If you have been in law enforcement for any length of time, you may know or seen printed on shirts, coffee mugs, maybe on a cross or you might even know someone in your department or close circle of friends that has a tattoo with "Blessed are the peacemakers" which is directly quoted from Matthew 5:9.
As law enforcement, I get why we would gravitate to such a verse, but I have seen this verse used by Christians and non-Christians alike in law enforcement. My core foundation in this ministry is that I will stand up for the truth of God's word. When we hear God's word being used incorrectly or spoken out of context, our responsibility is to correct it as 2 Timothy 3:16 says. God's word is useful and profitable for all things. As students of the Bible, we must invest in studying and applying its wisdom so that we can rebuke and correct the errors in doctrine and conduct.
Yes, as law enforcement we are peacemakers. I will not disagree with that, but unfortunately many are not applying this verse correctly. Matthew 5:9 is not a direct quote for law enforcement to utilize in its efforts to make peace in the world. Although it is that, it is often not in consideration to our first peace and that is with God.
These words from Matthew 5:9 are Jesus words in his Sermon on the Mount and are referred to as the Beatitudes which simply means blessing or blessedness...which hints why each of the Beatitudes, starting in verse v.3, start with "Blessed." When Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers" we must understand what a peacemaker is. God is the source of peace (Philippians 4:7) and I would agree that we are called as His followers to exhibit peace in our own lives (Galatians 5:22; Romans 12:18). But as Matthew 5:9 is alluding to, we are only at peace with God because as Christians we have accepted His peace offering for the forgiveness of our sins, which then makes us his children. Prior to accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were enemies of God and hostile to His word (Rom. 5:10).
As followers of Jesus, we live as He did by making peace with those around us. But as Jesus also stated in just a few chapters later in Matthew 10:34; "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (NIV). So, what then do we make of this? Well, first we have to realize that He is called the "Prince of Peace" in Isaiah 9:6. Ephesians 2:14-16 reveals that Jesus is our peace in that He has reconciled Jew and Gentile and reconciled both to God. Jesus offers this same peace to His followers: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27). Jesus words in Matthew 10:34 are speaking to a not yet seen Kingdom on earth. The peace we experience as Christians is bestowed on us as a result of our faith, but it often causes division in the relationships from those who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, there is no peace for those who have not accepted this gift from God. Jesus said that peacemakers are blessed because they will be called sons of God. In other words, they will have the honor of being identified as children of "the God of peace" (Romans 15:33). To live as a child of God is to have the greatest relationship in the world. It's a relationship made possible by the Prince of Peace: "for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith" (Galatians 3:26). So, the reality of this verse is that Jesus is speaking of those who have made peace with God and in doing so they are blessed.
Where then does that leave us in law enforcement? I would say this. If you are a Christian and a peace officer, then you are a peacemaker without a doubt. Does that mean your partner on shift who is not a Christian has no desire for peace and to do his job with complete honor. No, he is probably doing so and may even be doing it better than some who claim to be Christians. Just because you have made the identity to Christianity, does not mean you are a follower of Christ and have been reconciled with God. Having peace with God is putting faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus says in John 14:6 that he is "the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Peacemakers are actively working towards peace not as a form of law enforcement, but rather seeking God's grace in his free gift of salvation. God has no need to be reconciled to humanity. We do however have a desperate need to be reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:18). The correct biblical view of peacemaking as it relates to Matthew 5:9 should be one of helping others reconcile with God and with one another in our faith.