21st October 2020
'as far as it depends on you'
If it is possible,
as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.
.... Romans 12:18
Paul didn't write,
what was to become the book of Romans,
while on a peaceful vacation,
with peaceful people,
and peaceful circumstances.
He wrote this instruction
in the midst of people opposing him
and a situation filled with hardship.
One of the reasons he wrote his letter
to the Romans, is that peace
would not have been easy for them.
It would have felt as unnatural to them,
as it does for most of us,
in the midst of constant hardships,
never ending opposition
and relationship differences.
Maybe you wake up each day
with a new set of issues.
it isn't a big heart-breaking,
that is eroding your peace.
Maybe it's an ongoing frustration
or a disappointment
with a family member;
or a misunderstanding with a friend;
or even an unkind or rude comment
someone left on your social media.
Conflicts never seem to end.
Yet Paul is reminding everyone
who would read these verses
that peace is possible.
The Greeks thought of peace
as an absence of hostility;
but Paul taught that peace
is the atmosphere
we can bring into hostility.
This peace is a wholeness
we have because
of our relationship with God.
In John 14:27, Jesus said
27 'Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.'
Peace is a gift that God gives believers,
and that gift is evidence to the world
that we are different
because of our union with Jesus.
Our union with Jesus makes
this peace possible.
But it is our demonstration of the peace,
especially in the midst of hardships,
that makes it recognizable
as particularly rare and odd.
To live peacefully with all
seems like such a ridiculous impossibility.
And yet, when the impossible
is made possible
because of Jesus in us,
there's no greater testimony
that can be shared.
This kind of peace is rich evidence
of the reality of Jesus.
There is nothing more powerful,
to bring into a situation,
than the Prince of Peace
himself (Isaiah 9:6),
Let's not miss the point
of this writing from Paul;
he doesn't say,
'As far as it depends
on other people bringing peace.'
Nor does he say,
'As long as conflicts end
in a peaceful way.' No! -
he says, 'So far as it depends on you.'
In other words,
peace in our lives doesn't depend upon others;
it isn't affected by other people's choices;
it is made possible by our choice.
This is easy to say but hard to accomplish -
we are not Jesus!
But it is possible,
if only we surrender
our wrongdoings daily,
refuse to entertain bitterness
and stay humble even when we are hurt.
So, while this teaching can feel challenging,
it's also eye-opening and empowering.
I always thought peace was possible
when there was an absence of chaos.
But chaos comes and goes as it pleases
in this secular world.
We cannot control chaos,
but we can control our own choices.
It's not that people all around us are peaceful
or that all of our relationships
are perfectly peaceful all of the time.
Rather it's like having a deep-down knowing
that we've released ourselves
from the binding effects of unforgiveness
and the constraining feelings of unfairness.
Living in the comfort of peace
is s much better than living
in the constraints of unforgiveness.
This makes a difference to our lives;
it's part of our process
of co-operating with God.
Overcoming evil with good;
living at peace
so long as it depends on me.
Leaving room for God
to work on the one
I need to forgive;
knowing the goodness of God;
living in his presence.
May you have a peace filled day
whatever comes your way.