>**spoiler alert** I recently saw the movie The Fighter with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. It definitely wasn’t what I expected going into it… there were only a handful of actual fight scenes. Bale plays Dickie Eklund, a washed up former boxer whose claim to fame is allegedly “knocking down” Sugar Ray Leonard. Dickie is a cocaine addict who lives in a crack house and has basically thrown away his life. His younger brother Micky Ward, played by Wahlberg, is a young aspiring boxer who frequently seeks out his older brother for training and advice. The story is riveting… more about the brothers’ relationship than about boxing. When Dickie proves to be a liability to Micky’s career, Micky cuts him off, for his own good and for the good of Micky’s boxing career. Dickie is sent to prison and Micky loses all trust for his brother and for his family who seems to be more out for their own interests than for his. He decides to take his career into his own hands, thus alienating himself from his family and most importantly his best friend and brother.
Without giving away too much, I think the reason I liked the movie so much is that in the end the story is more about fighting for something much more important than a boxing championship or career: its about fighting for reconciliation. Fighting to keep relationships together. Fighting to restore misused and abused loyalties and trust.
In one of the most famous sermons in history, the Sermon on the Mount, found in the Bible in Matthew chapter 5, Jesus of Nazareth stood on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee and began to list of character qualities of people that were ‘fit’ for the Kingdom of God… and the things that he listed must have been nothing short of surprising to the vast crowd that was listening. One of the qualities he listed was this:
“blessed are those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9). Another translation says “blessed are the peacemakers…” (NIV)
For some reason I’ve always thought this synonymous with “peacekeepers.” But that’s simply not the case. Peacekeepers keep peace at all costs. Peacekeepers don’t confront if it will cause a problem. Peacekeepers don’t fight battles that need to be fought in order to achieve peace; they don’t ruffle feathers. Peacekeepers only goal is to promote human happiness and well-being. The word here for “peacemakers” in the Greek text is a word that is used only once in the entire Bible. Its the word “eirenopoios.” It comes from two words: eirene, meaning “peace,” and “poieo” meaning to make or do. Antony used this word in his great speech to describe himself after murdering Caesar. Peacemaker.
I remember the movie First Knight where Sean Connery played King Arthur and Richard Gere played Lancelot (reminiscent of Robin Hood: Prince of Theives where Kevin Costner was the only one without an English accent … and Sean Connery plays King Richard at the end). There’s a scene where Arthur is sitting with his knights at the round table debating on whether they should go to war. Sean Connery stands with a fiery look in his face and proclaims “there is a peace that is only to be found on the other side of war, and when that war comes, I will fight it!”
Peacemakers. Disinterested parties that come between two opposing forces in order to make peace. People who put themselves in the line of fire in order to pacify tensions, bitterness, or rivalry…those are peacemakers. People who are willing to fight for reconciliation…fight for peace. Jesus says that those people are God’s sons because they are like Him.
Its Jacob in Genesis 33 initiating reconciliation with his brother Esau, being commended for “wrestling with God and man and overcoming.”
Its Martin Luther King standing on a podium saying “I have a dream, that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”
Its Nelson Mandela refusing to fire any white employees from his administration after taking power despite years of oppression and hatred.
Its Micky Ward, giving his crack addict brother a second chance, a third chance, and a fourth chance then restoring him at the end as his trainer once again.
Its Jesus, hanging on a cross, crying out “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” taking upon himself the punishment we all deserved, becoming the “mediator of a new covenant,” the go-between for God and man, whose blood “speaks a better word” than the blood of Abel…the blood of revenge, jealousy, and anger.
Blessed are those willing to risk themselves for the sake of making peace.
Blessed are those who fight for it.