Pursue the goal of peace along with everyone—and holiness as well, because no one will see the Lord without it.
The New Living Translation says to “work at living in peace with everyone and work at living a holy life.” The New International Version says, “make every effort to live in peace with everyone.” I think these are helpful translations. “Pursue the goal” feels harder to me for some reason – maybe it’s just that peace seems so hard to obtain. And yet anytime you see a random video of people being asked what they want in this world, someone will inevitably cite “world peace” as their deepest hope.
We can’t possibly know all of the wars and conflicts that are going on in the world right now, but we know there are a great many. We also know that in our own lives, there are people that may be in our families, or our friend groups, or our workspaces that we just can’t seem to have peace with. But what is peace, really? Merriam-Webster has 160 synonyms and antonyms for peace. Some of which are “ease, calm, comfort, accord, quiet, collaboration, cohesiveness.” On the other side they are “noise, irritation, conflict, war, tumult.”
We frequently hear of cease fires for special days or events, but they are not often maintained and don’t necessarily lead to peace. We can start there, however, and call a “cease fire” in our own hearts and minds by not hurling emotional or verbal bombs at people. Maybe we feel like if we just don’t even deal with or talk to someone that we can maintain a level of peace, but God’s peace means more than that. Martin Luther King Jr said, “True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force – tension, confusion, or war; it is the presence of some positive force – justice, good will, and brotherhood.” This is much more difficult, as we are required to find the good in others and to bring some degree of reconciliation and cohesion to the relationship.
In Hebrews 12:15b it says, “watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness comes up to trouble you, corrupting many.” This can easily happen in a situation where we feel we are justified in our lack of peace with someone, and we try to bring others to seeing the situation “our way” or attempt to bring others to “our side.”
Sometimes it isn’t possible to bring about a reconciliation, but we are required to work at bringing peace between us and those we come in contact with. It isn’t easy. We may have totally different thought processes, priorities, likes, dislikes, etc., but if we take the time to remember that we are all created in God’s image, that God wants us to work for peace, and that the Holy Spirit is there to help us if we ask, we may be able to see the situation differently. We may be able to continue working toward peace with others. If we don’t have reconciliation, then we can know we have tried, and that the next step will be working on the forgiveness, which can help us bring peace to our lives.
by Janet Waryck
For Pondering & Prayer
Who is it in your life that you need to make peace with? There are a few people in my life that I continue to struggle with, but hopefully and prayerfully I will continue to work on those relationships to bring about peace.
Prayer: God of peace, thank you for bringing the Prince of Peace into the world to be our example. Alongside the Holy Spirit, help us to work on making peace with those we don’t currently feel at peace with so that we may be called holy, and others may know your love through us. Amen.