If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
We live in a world divided over everything. The endless social media wars fueled by polarized media has led to more and more division. Yesterday I was reading a comments section for a social media post asking for help and inside that thread there was name calling and anger and frustration and one person saying they cannot sleep tonight because of a comment had caused offense to her. How did we get here? Never mind how we got here, but is there a way to learn to really live in peace with others around us?
In Paul’s letter to the Roman church, He discusses various important matters about salvation and towards the end, he gives valuable instructions on how to live in a community. This piece of scripture reveals an aspect that we tend to miss – ‘as far as it depends on you’. Living in peace with everyone is as much our responsibility as is theirs. It’s often easy to get offended by people’s words and actions and social media posts. It is true that offense is sometimes real. We will experience pain because of the actions of the people around us. We will feel anger and we will feel like engaging in the conflict and we will want to seek revenge. But most often, offense is mostly perceived. A random post on social media and we take it upon ourselves to fix the people on social media. We resort to anger or sarcasm and bullying. We seek revenge on people who we haven’t even met in person. When faced with something we disagree with, Scripture tells us to take the high road. To not engage in conflict but seek to maintain peace. We are called to actively pursue peace.
In the famous sermon on the mount, Jesus Himself says,
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
“Children of God”, now that’s a title we could all desire for. Peace is a gift that Jesus has already given us through His death and resurrection. That’s why Jesus is the Prince of Peace. However, we often destroy this gift by perpetuating conflict instead of pursuing peace. We do that because we somehow feel we are better than the next person. We feel like we are in power when we type angry or sarcastic words through our keyboards. We say, “They should be blamed for the lack of peace I feel”. Someone wrongs us and we take it upon ourselves to avenge ourselves. We laugh when they fall down and feel satisfied when they are proved wrong. Our brother, our sister in Christ – but we forget that and make the conflict worse. We have just as much responsibility towards peace as the next person and when we choose peace, we can spend our energy on things that matter. We can use our time and emotions to lift up and build others up. God desires to restore this world. He desires peace but we believe bulldozing our way through conflict is the only way to bring change. Nothing can be far from the truth. A conflict creator can never accomplish anything positive. On the other hand, the peacemaker, the peacemaker is called the child of God and that child is given the authority, by God, to co-create with Him, beauty from ashes. The peacemaker is given the authority to rebuild ruined cities and repair broken walls. The peacemaker builds, the conflict creator destroys. That’s how God’s kingdom works.
May we learn to be peacemakers. As much as we can, may we live at peace with everyone. May we learn to run from gossip and revenge and learn to seek harmony and peace within our communities.