Read: Hebrews 12:14-17
Work at living in peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14).
Writing in the heat of the American Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned words regarding how we must go about the work of justice: “I am concerned that Negroes achieve full status as citizens and as human beings here in the United States. But I am also concerned about our moral uprightness and the health of our souls. Therefore I must oppose any attempt to gain our freedom by the methods of malice, hate, and violence that have characterized our oppressors. Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. . . . Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
The writer of Hebrews, like Dr. King, urges us to be peacemakers—dismantling evil and hate. “Work at living in peace with everyone,” Hebrews insists (Hebrews 12:14). We do this work because it is right, but also because if we don’t pursue peace, we harm ourselves. If we nurse the “poisonous root of bitterness” and refuse to “look after each other,” we harm ourselves as much as our enemies (Hebrews 12:15). Even worse, if we spurn peace, we resist God’s grace.
This is why the Scriptures challenge us to pursue peace regardless of whether or not our efforts prove successful. While some people may resist our attempts at reconciliation, we’re still to “do all that [we] can to live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). We’re to do all that’s in our power to create peace, and then to leave the rest with God.
To live in peace with everyone, especially our enemies, is one of the peculiar, difficult demands for those of us who believe in Jesus. Yet it yields hope for us (and our enemies). We don’t have to live in entrenched conflict. We don’t have to bear the burden of hate. In Jesus’ power, we can be peacemakers.
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