UCOG Blog Logo
News and views from the German-language region of Europe

November 22, 2019

Promoting peace: actively or passively?

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

As disciples of Jesus Christ, our goal should be to live in peace with all people: "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18). And in the next chapter Paul summarizes the command to love our neighbor this way: "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:10; see also verses 8-9).

These are important descriptions of our responsibility concerning our interpersonal relationships. But someone might ask whether peace is created by passive behavior alone, that is, by simply doing nothing evil to our neighbor. We could understand the request in such a way that we actually don't need to have anything to do with our neighbor, that we don't have to interact with him at all, we just don't have to do anything bad to him.

King David wrote: "Seek peace and pursue it." And in the immediate context of his exhortation we find a key for our search for peace:

"Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 34:14).

Seeking peace, building peace, involves more than just passive behavior. Turn away from all evil and do good, David tells us. Turn away from evil things? That means I should not be doing things that bring discord, promote strife, or hurt others. And what else? ". . . do good." That adds something to the challenge, as I see it.

It quickly becomes clear: seeking/creating peace begins with me. In the family, at work, in the neighborhood and of course in the church. Anywhere where people are together. "Seek peace and pursue it!" This admonition with the verbs it uses removes any doubt that through passive behavior alone peace somehow simply happens. Searching and hunting, both are active. Sitting in an armchair I find nothing that was lost. Searching costs time, is connected with effort and is often rewarded in the end. Seeking peace means, among other things, struggling for words, fighting for relationships, asking for forgiveness and forgiving others.

In his epistle to the Galatians Paul rounds out his summary of the command to love our neighbor this way: "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10). Being active promotes peace!

Lastly, let's be aware of Paul's "limitation" in Romans 12, verse 18: "as much as depends on you." There are people who do not want peace with us. In such cases our "being active" can be a mental attitude, meaning: "I want to do good for you if you would allow me to do so."

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


internal links:


search blog: