Peace is not produced by passivity. Harmony is not a settled state. Man tends toward discord. A close reading of Genesis 3 will reveal that sin caused disharmony between man and his Creator, disharmony between man and creation, and disharmony between man and man. We live in a world where sin is the settled state. Where sin is, there is disunity, discord, and disharmony. Peace must be something we work toward, something we pursue.
The blood of Christ has the power to heal the divide between God and man (Colossians 1:20). But man must be willing to pursue that peace (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Denying self and following after Christ are basic prerequisites to reconciliation with God. Peace with God through salvation does not simply come to us, we must come to God in faith. Once we have been unified with God, we must continue to live by faith to maintain that fellowship with the Divine (1 John 1:3-7).
Of the 10 times that Christians are instructed to positively pursue a virtue or a circumstance, 40% point to peace. We are to “pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19), “strive for peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14), “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11), and “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
God created something unique in the kingdom of Christ. Those drawn together by the blood of Christ are unified in the faith (Galatians 3:23-27). Out of many tribes, peoples, and languages, God created one body. We are charged with maintaining the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). This is not unity in diversity, for “there is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:4, 5). We are to be united in the “same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
How can we pursue peace?
Develop the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5)
Jesus is the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6). If we have his mind, then our attitude will be one that makes for peace (1 Peter 3:8-11).
Treat others better than yourself (Romans 12:10-21)
A humble, servant attitude will produce far more light than heat. Christians are to compete with each other in only one area. We are to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10b). When others mistreat us or harm us, we are to restrain ourselves from retaliation (Romans 12:17, 19), and actively do good to them (Romans 12:14, 20, 21).
Go to them (Matthew 5:23, 24; Matthew 18:15)
Jesus’ teachings on conflict resolution picture two people running toward each other to be reconciled. If we have wronged a brother, we are to go to him (Matthew 5:23, 24). Our worship is not desired until reconciliation is accomplished. If a brother has wronged us, we are not to stew over it or spew it to the church gossip, but we are to go to him (Matthew 18:15). How much strife would cease if we submitted to God and dealt with our difficulties in a Christ-like manner?
Friends, peace must be pursued. Peace requires a Christ-like heart, a humble attitude, and submissive actions. Are you pursuing peace (Psalm 34:14)?