My first week of student teaching, I sat down with my class to discuss a play we were about to rehearse. But what erupted that day was much more dramatic than any play. Eight or nine young men burst through the classroom door and began throwing books, overturning desks, and shouting obscenities.
The teacher of the class had just distributed last term’s grades, and a group of senior boys, who’d been skipping class before I arrived, were not happy about the grades they’d received.
For the weeks before my teaching assignment, I had prayed about the classes I’d be instructing – asking God to help me see everyone I’d meet as He sees them. We are all His children, I heard angel messages tell me again and again. Each of His children is loving and lovable, blessing and blessed. I saw the one Father-Mother guiding each of us, and filling us with joy, integrity, goodness, and inspiration.
These angelic thoughts filled me with a sense of joyful peace. The first few days went swimmingly, with students who were eager to learn and respect each other. Even though the teaching was hard work, the hours were filled with the joy of seeing God’s children reflecting all of His love and good qualities.
But this day, I was confronted by a disturbing picture – one depicting God’s children gone haywire.
I was at my desk when the door opened, and found myself bowing my head in silent prayer as the drama played itself out. I asked God, “How do You see these children, Your children?” An answer came back immediately: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
I’d never thought about it before, but this beatitude of Christ Jesus included all of the children of God as “peacemakers” – not “troublemakers”! Therefore, the nature and job of these students was to express and promote peace.
There was a tap on my shoulder. As I looked up, everyone was stuffed into a seat at a desk, and the boy who’d tapped my shoulder spoke for the class: “We want to know what you’re thinking.”
I said I had a vision of them as mature peacemakers, with the ability to communicate and use the tools God gave them. I expressed an interest in their concerns and knew we could find solutions. I invited the boys to join the class. All anger dissolved, and they responded with a desire to help with the play.
Several weeks later, the play was performed for an audience, and every student had a part in its production. Each student made good and honest grades for our term together, and my fellow staff members were impressed with the progress made.
In the intervening decades, I’ve applied the lesson of that morning again and again in my prayers. Whether it be a contentious situation at work or during the election season, I’m grateful to look through the lens of this beatitude to see the way Christ Jesus saw others.
Blessed are the peacemakers! They shall be called the children of God. No matter what we appear to be, the innate identity of each and every child of God involves the talent of making peace. And that ability can be loved and encouraged into expression.
The Greek word translated as “peace” in the passage from Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount means more than peace between peoples. It has to do with expressing prosperity, quietness, rest, and oneness. In fact, the definition includes “to set at one again” (Strong’s Concordance).
The peace we make comes with the discovery that outward circumstances cannot dictate our experience of prosperity and spiritual wholeness.
Whether we’re in an out-of-control classroom or a world where things seem unsettled, we can let the angels remind us that we are the very children of God, able to see and make peace right where we are. The ripples of that peacemaking extend out and bless the world.
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