Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness–without it no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 HCSB)
Am I at peace with everyone? I think so. I hope so. I don’t have any active battles any hot wars.
Cold Wars on the other hand are easier to hide. They consist not of bullets, bombs, firsts or angry words but of attitudes.
Pursue dioko (G1377), “to put to flight, pursue, persecute.”
When I think of peace I typically think of the absence of conflict. However, this is a very active word. This isn’t sitting back, chilling out saying “peace man.” This is a picture of someone who is dedicated to a life with two active pursuits Peace and Holiness.
Peace at any Price?
This theme of peace with men is mentioned by several of the New Testament authors. Peter mentions this in 1 Peter 3:11, Paul in Romans 12:18. One way to have peace is to simply give in. Just do what the other person wants you to do and you will probably have the absence of conflict.
In the early days of the church we see conflict at the temple with the Priests and Sadducees. These men were happy with the status quo. They had a good thing going and they wanted peace. Here come Peter and John preaching about an executed criminal being raised from the dead.
So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:18 HCSB)
What now? If peace is the goal, the simplest thing would be to obey this order. After all, if they disobeyed it they would most certainly have conflict.
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20 HCSB)
Unable to stop. Can’t shut up about it. They were ordered by a higher authority than these men to proclaim Jesus as the Christ.
Then the high priest took action. He and all his colleagues, those who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. So they arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. (Acts 5:17-18 HCSB)
The inevitable result was jail. All they had to do was keep quiet and they could have had peace.
The Pursuit of Peace
Peace is the absence of conflict. How do you pursue something that is actually the absence of something else? You don’t find peace in a box. You don’t find it in a place.
You pursue it by actively seeking to remove the things that are un-peace. This peace is in the realm of relationships. Which relationships? All of them. Pursue peace with everyone.
The first part of pursuing peace is to determine as much as it depends upon you to not break the peace. Peace is fragile. It can be shattered by an act or a word spoken in anger.
The second part of pursuing peace is to determine to restore it quickly when it is threatened. This means to choose not to escalate the conflict.
Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21 HCSB)
How do we douse the fire of conflict? With good. With mercy. With prayer.
As long as there are people in your life there will be conflict. Conflict is easy. Peace is fragile. Nobody had to tell you to pursue conflict. But here it is, the command of God’s word… pursue peace.