Does the world seem angry to you? Do you wonder why we’re so argumentative, fighting at the drop of a hat? Why is it so easy to respond angrily to anything? It seems that if someone has the audacity to disagree, even slightly, we take umbrage, take offense, get upset, and tell the world how we’ve been mistreated. I’ve been on both sides, done it, and had it done to me. And that makes me sad.
I was reminded of this as I studied for our small group this week, looking at 1 Peter. It hit me again this morning as I was reading in Hebrews 12 before our men’s Bible study, and then I remembered a couple of recent sermons I’ve heard. It’s almost like I’ve been given a head slap to wake up. Duh!
Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14). Paul talks about “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4) being ours, as those who believe in Christ Jesus, that same peace that Jesus left with us.
Over and over, as Paul, Peter and John write their letters to believers, they remind us that grace and peace are ours. So why is it so difficult to respond peacefully? Why are the first words out of my mouth often defensive, even aggressive, attacking rather than merely defending? How is that peaceful? How does that show God’s love to others?
My answer is found in the scriptures that got me to this point. It’s an action point (not necessarily my strong suit). We have to seek peace, pursue it even. Look at
- Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
- 1 Peter 3:10-11 Whoever desires to love life and see good days … let him seek peace and pursue it.
- Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
We need to run away from, flee from the things that cause strife and contention.
- 2 Timothy 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
And finally, we need to strive for peace with everyone so that we can live peaceably with all.
- Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
- Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
So, what does that look like for you? Please, don’t test me by trying to get me going, but I’m going to work on this, seek peace, strive for it, pray for it (and that’s what will help the most). I can’t stop people from reacting poorly to things I say (other than controlling what I say and how I say it) but I can, by the grace of God, stop myself from reacting poorly to other people.
Finally, as Peter says in 1 Peter 1:2, may grace and peace be multiplied to you!