Read: Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Peace or “shalom” is one of the central goals of the Christian life. Shalom, as previously shared, is health, wholeness, harmony, and “God’s peace” in various aspects of life. A state of shalom is the realization of God’s will in those areas of life. It is, of course, an ongoing battle as life’s circumstances and challenges are always changing and sometimes we get “thrown off the horse”.
Sometimes people are the cause. When I went to seminary near Chicago I had a student job serving breakfast to future pastors. That’s when I realized that human nature is universal. If you want to see consternation and even fury, try telling a future pastor that the milk order hadn’t arrived yet, so we didn’t yet have 2% milk. We had skim milk (totally unacceptable!). Simply put, people can be difficult.
It wasn’t the debate about 2% or skim milk that upset the young churches in Rome. They had other weightier issues. The inclusion of gentiles to “God’s people” was a major challenge to the Jewish Christians who had always thought that the Messiah (or “Christ” in the Greek language) was going to be the savior of the Jews and lead the Jewish nation. Not only did they need to make room for gentiles (whom previously they were forbidden to eat with under the law of Moses), now they had to give up their old ways and accept those who didn’t follow the Kosher food laws in the Old Testament at all. Wow, that was a huge and controversial change.
It’s no wonder the Apostle Paul writes them a long letter (Romans) to smooth over the waters. One principle that Paul lifts up is in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
The Bible gives us timeless wisdom. It acknowledges that sometimes peace is not possible. Trying to appease an aggressive dictator (i.e. Neville Chamberlain /Adolf Hitler) is a bad idea. Sometimes peace is not possible and a firm line must be drawn. Yet, most of the time, in our day to day lives, peace is possible and very worth pursuing; that’s why the Bible binds us to the principle, “so far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” It is a wise way to live life, and it’s God way.
Shalom, Pastor Rob Nystrom