living at peace with everyone

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12

I have lived long enough in this world to realize that sometimes for rather understandable reasons and sometimes perhaps not, not everyone is going to like me. I’m not sure why this dynamic regularly occurs among people, although there’s a multitude of possible reasons why. No matter what we do, that seemingly doesn’t seem to change at least for the time being with some. Though perhaps over the long haul by grace it will.

Even pastors will be disliked by someone or another, and usually not just one. Oftentimes no matter what they do they won’t measure up to whatever standard someone has given them. Some will put up with them from the start. But this can end up being not only good training for godliness for the pastor, who is to be an example to the church/the flock, but it could be used of the Lord to lead the recalcitrant, stubborn one to change. Sadly that is not always the case. Some will have their barbs ready when the occasion is right, or ways of inflicting hurt.

I have come to the place where I realize that no matter what, I just can’t make some people like me. I have walked on egg shells trying to make people like me. And that one is especially hard in a church setting in which we’re to love each other to the place where I really think we should learn to like each other. Though love isn’t necessarily about like; we can love someone without actually liking them, or more specifically what they do. But I believe that if you take time to get to know anyone, you will come to actually like them over time. After all, we’re all made in God’s image.

It is striking in scripture, and specifically in the New Testament the priority peace is to have. I know that depends on what one means. The gospel itself causes division. But we’re to pursue peace and make it a priority (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:8-12). Our Lord’s words about the blessedness of peace makers are echoed by his half brother James in talking about the priority and indispensability of peace in wisdom or for wise living.

We can’t make someone like us, but we do need to make peace with them a priority. We must refuse returning dislike for dislike. We can pray and love as best we can, even against the grain of someone’s dislike. Part of our calling together in our Lord Jesus.

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