waging peace

First published July 26, 2012

When I was much younger, I memorized Romans 12 one summer, for some prize. I haven’t forgotten the first paragraph or two, about being a living sacrifice, about renewing my mind. I remember how J.B. Phillips paraphrased the second verse: “Don’t let the world  around you squeeze you into its own mould.”

Paul was writing this letter to a group of people who were following Jesus and living in Rome. They were in the minority. They were talking about teachings that stood at complete odds with the plurality of the culture. And in this section of the letter, Paul offers this counselIf it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

What’s compelling about this counsel is that it is not a standard that he offers for the empire or the emperor. In fact, elsewhere in his letter, Paul encourages respect for the very authorities that had kept him imprisoned. He knew that the government wasn’t polite toward him, but that wasn’t going to change his politeness toward the government. It’s not a call to abandon beliefs. The beginning of this chapter and rest of his letter makes clear that Paul was pretty specific about a lot of things.

These words are, however, a request to adopt a tone of peacemaking.

He’s echoing the words of Jesus, to wage peace rather than war. He’s echoing the words of God through Jeremiah to the people of Israel living in exile: “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

You and I may disagree about how to understand the Bible. But with what I understand, before God I dare not pick fights.

Advertisements

About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

One thought on “waging peace

  1. It has been difficult to persevere, with serenity, in a crowd of “believers” who too often support the going out into the world with weapons of human destruction. Let us slowly, but surely. begin to “wage peace” whatever the earthly cost.

    Like

Comments are closed.