Peace Signs

As much as it depends on you - live at peace with all men. That is from the Bible. I’m so glad that God put the primary clause in that little verse. It is brilliant. The Author knows his creation well. He understands that we don’t always get along. Hardly ever, in fact. But there it is, sitting pretty in the Scriptures, as much as it depends on you… live at peace with everyone.

In order for this little sentence to function - a few things need to happen. First we must allow for the fact that not everyone wants to be at peace with us. They don’t even like us. Petty jealousies or past, un-forgiven hurts block the way of love and affection. Often, these things are held on to like coins in a counting house, adding up to a Reason so that someone feels justified in their negative opinions. We probably all have someone in our lives who is stacking against us, amounting to a genuine dislike. So, it is dependent on us to ask for forgiveness. If we have caused hurt - own up to it and apologize. It won’t kill us. On second thought, Jesus calls us to die to self - so it may well do us in. But, this is good.

Next it depends on us to treat those who don’t enjoy your company nicely. Get over your reactive positioning and love them. Proactively! Genuinely! Yes, despite the fact that they still don’t seem to like you much. You have asked for forgiveness, so live like you have it. God has you on a clean slate - so roll with that. If someone is slow to forgive - that is not in the category of “Depends on you.”

Also, in order for this lesson to work in our lives, we must value peace. Many have abandoned hope for peace, thinking it an impossibility - a fairy tale. The world we live in rails against peace. Many of us grew up in homes where there was no peace. Even when there was quiet, there was no peace. We just waited for the next bomb to go off. To you I say that peace is possible. It’s one of the results (or fruits) of being a container for the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is - there is peace. So, invite Him into your life and your relationships. Peacemaking in this fashion is a noble cause. Jesus said that peacemakers who plant seeds of peace will harvest peace. Imagine a full harvest of peace filling our houses and barns. It’s possible - but we have to start planting. That much depends on us. Leave the rest to God. You can’t force someone to change.

Some of us, frankly have never known peace. Within and without you have been buffeted and beaten, pulled far out to sea - away from the safe port of peace. For these, we must model peace. That much depends on us. Make sure the docks are open and clear when they finally sail in. Don’t harbor a grudge.

Don’t expect to find peace automatically occurring, even in church. We haven’t done too well in the peace department over the years. Not even at first. Well, at the very beginning, the birth of the church in Acts chapter two, everyone got along famously. But, a lot of things that start smoothly, don’t sustain. Many marriages offer proof of this fact. The church was no different. By the time the Epistles were written to the First Century Church, there were factions, disagreements and doctrinal divisions. It didn’t take long to go off kilter in the peace department.

So, although it sounds like an oxymoron - fight for peace. Work for it. It takes time. Years of dysfunction can not be cured with a conversation. It requires more. But, it is worth it. Peace is a beautiful thing. You can depend on it.