“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
I wonder just how different this world would look if each one of us simply chose to abide by this one verse in Scripture. I wonder how many offenses we would let roll off if we simply chose to prioritize peace. I wonder how many fewer marriages and relationships would be fractured if we decided to exhaust ourselves for the sake of peace. I wonder how many lost, hurting, and broken people in this world would come to know Jesus as friend, Lord, and Savior if we truly became peacemakers.
I want you to think about one relationship in your life right now that is lacking peace. Maybe it’s your spouse or a close friend. Maybe it’s a co-worker or a boss. It might be your child or an extended family member. I imagine that if peace is absent from that relationship, there was probably an offense. You were hurt, betrayed, or lied to. You were disappointed or let down by an unmet expectation. You gave of yourself, but the other person only took. You confided, but your trust was broken. You put yourself out on a limb, but instead of being supported, you fell, and no one was there to catch you.
Each of these pains is valid. I have felt them. You have felt them. Their weight is a heavy one. But, what if, instead of running from it, we chose to lean into it? How would the outcome change? As I read and reread Romans 12:18, something becomes very clear to me. Peace is not passive. Peace is intentionally moving toward conflict with the intention to restore and not to destroy.
I’ve definitely moved toward some different conflicts in my life, but if I’m really honest, my motivation in moving toward them was more to prove that I was right rather than to restore. We need a new perspective on what it looks like to live at peace with everyone. Everyone includes your actual, literal neighbor—you know, that person who lives next door? Everyone includes your in-laws and family members. Everyone includes the person in front of you in line taking their sweet old time when you’re in a rush. Everyone includes those who don’t believe the same way you believe. Everyone includes those whose skin color isn’t the same as yours. Everyone includes those whose political bent is in opposition to yours.
Everyone includes everyone.
I love the example of Jesus on this one. In John 21, after Jesus had resurrected from the dead, He appears to some of His disciples on the sea shore, and He makes them breakfast. Among those present was Peter, the man who had just denied Him three times right before Christ’s crucifixion. If my life were on the line, I would hope my closest family and friends would be there to support me, to plead for me, to help me. But Peter, bound by fear and who knows what else, said that he didn’t even know Jesus. Imagine the grief that would cause your heart to feel. But, instead of being bitter, unforgiving, or completely brushing Peter off, Jesus moves toward him. He pursues him and has an amazing conversation with him. Instead of striking a match and setting ablaze the remaining pieces of their fragmented friendship, Jesus sets a table.
So, this question remains: How are you actively pursuing peace in your relationships with others? Peace isn’t easy. In fact, biblical peace is costly and often subversive. But, peace is the heart of God. Therefore, it needs to be our heart as well.