Key verse:
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord – Hebrews 12:14 NKJV

The pursuit of peace

Last week I preached about finding our inner peace.  When we can find and then attain our inner peace, what should we then do with it?  Should we keep peace to ourselves, or should we share it with others?  In other words, should we be selfish with our peace?  I find this to be a very intriguing question because the answer is clearly shown in Christian doctrine.

In last week’s sermon, I referenced today’s key verse and remarked how it is similar to one of last week’s key verses (Romans 12:18).  While Romans 12:18 and Hebrews 12:14 are similar, there is one slight but significant difference.  In Romans, we see that Paul writes “‘live peaceably’ with all men.”  In Hebrews 12:14, our writer states, “‘pursue (follow)’ peace with all people”; the difference in both scriptures being “live” and “pursue”.

Pursue:  to follow closely; to chase after in order to catch.  When you’re in pursuit of something, you’re hoping to be able to catch whatever it is you are pursuing.  I am reminded of an old movie that both me and brother enjoy – Smokey and the Bandit.  Sherrif Buford T. Justice, throughout the entire movie, would say how he was in high-speed pursuit of the Bandit.  Buford was in pursuit of the Bandit from Texarkana, Texas all the way to Atlanta, Georgia.

We have to pursue peace with the same determination; it has to be chased after and it may not be something that can be easily caught.  When you think about how long mankind has been around, we have never ever found peace.  We illude ourselves by believing that we’re living in peace, but the real truth is that we do not currently live in peace.

In the very nation we live in, you can’t even go to church anymore without worrying about gunmen entering into the church and opening fire.  Going to a Waffle House to get food could now end in being humiliated over plasticware.  Waiting to do business at a Starbucks can also now end in similar humiliation.  We all wish to live in peace, but what boils down on the inside of us won’t allow mankind to live in peace.

Men have fought for peace, really great men like Dr. Martin L. King, but sadly good men like him were destroyed by the same turmoil that doesn’t allow for inner peace.  Does this mean we should give up our pursuit of peace with all people?  We have not been giving the spirit of fear, but of power and of love (2 Timothy 1:7).  Therefore, we should not be afraid to move about, in genuine faith, sharing our peace with others!

Let us remember, we have obtained this peace not by any of our own works but through the Lord.  Yes, we had to accept Jesus Christ, but it is Jesus who gives us peace and not we ourselves.  “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you,” are words spoken to us by Christ (John 14:27).  You see, we are to turn over wrath, our inner turmoil, over to Christ and allow Him to dwell within us.  As I said last week, Christ is not going to come and dwell in us if our wrath still subsides inside of us.

If Christ, His words and His way, dwells in us, then we know that this peace He has given us is not meant solely for us.  What do I mean?  Let’s examine this thought for a moment.

The followers of Christ were given a directive from Christ to share His gospel – the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19).  I speak about this commission a great deal because we as His followers ought to know about the task we have been given.  I asked someone who told me that they believe in the only begotten Son about the Great Commission, once, and to my dismay he had not heard of the Great Commission.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Matthew 28:19 NKJV

I believe we not only must know our commission, but we should have a full understanding of what all it entails.  One of the biggest problems that faces us today is that believers will read this scripture, but they don’t fully know how to go about sharing the gospel.  The gospel, the good news, is a message that should be shared in the manner in which it was first shared with those of Jesus’ day.  Jesus taught out of both love and peace, and so we as His followers ought to share both His love and peace with others as we share His gospel.

Let us pursue both love and peace with all people – this is a Christian principle!

How do we pursue peace with others?

As I continue to grow, spiritually, I am constantly trying to understand how do I go about pursuing and living peaceably with all manner of people.  I find that it is very easy for me to both pursue and live peaceably with those who are like-minded and genuinely care about me.  What is not as easy:  pursuing peace with those who are not like-minded.  How do we pursue peace with those who do not love us?

I feel the greatest challenge that has always faced mankind has been pursuing peace with those who don’t like you (hate you).  I live in a nation that is filled with people who seem to be growing more and more in their hate and bigotry.  The idea that the hate my ancestors faced is still a hate that many of us still face today absolutely blows my mind.  The question is, how should we as believers in Christ respond to such hate?

If we genuinely want to live peaceably with all men, then our pursuit of such peace must not come from a place of hate.  Again, there is simply no way that hate will ever bring about peace.  When we have come to find inner peace through Christ, there should be no need of us turning back to hate and spreading more hate.  Scripture (Leviticus 19:17) says, “you shall not hate your brother in your heart.  You shall surely rebuke your neighbor.”  We as followers should stand up and rebuke the evil of this world and all such hatred and bigotry that is going about nowadays.

One of the biggest mistakes we make, in our way of thinking, is believing that our peace is a fragile thing.  So, we say things like, “I am not going to let ‘this or that’ ruin my peace.”  I completely understand this way of thought, however, I tell you that if you’ve find peace in Christ then that peace is not something that is fragile!  God is a God that is meant to be shared; He is not a selfish God!  What do I mean by this?

God doesn’t want you to sit on your peace; He wants you to share the peace that He has given to you.  Well, for so long, many of us have decided to sit and be quiet as a means of “keeping the peace”.  I tell you that you if we want to live in peace, we must at least first try to pursue peace – we cannot sit down and be quiet.  When we stand to rebuke evil, hatred, and bigotry, we must do say from a place of peace and not from a place of hatred.

Sadly, there are many “believers” who pursue peace by rebuking from a place of absolutely hatred.  How do you believe that goes?  Our rebuke must not be done out of hate or even with a grudge.  Some are under the impression that if they say things loudly, and from a place of anger, that those words will be heard and accepted.  I would say, those voices are becoming increasingly annoying nowadays and unless folks are like-minded to those that speak that way, people tend to move away from those that speak like that.

The Church is becoming to overcrowded with folks that are that way.  We then wonder, “why are people leaving the Church”?  Those that are occupying these local churches are no longer about peace, but about a bunch of mess, and so guess what happens – people don’t want to be around mess.

Peace draws people in.  The church should be a place that draws all manner of people in.  We, as followers of Christ, should be a people that draws all manner of people in.  You may ask, “what if they don’t listen to my rebuke?  How do I live in peace then?”  Let us learn to live peaceably with their decision.  In other words, let us learn to respect the decision that they have made!  Let us learn to respect the way that they have chosen to live!  Not only that, but turn your pursuit, from that point, over to God!

I tell you that we cannot live with others if we, the believers, are the ones who become so filled and overcome with anger and rage at their decisions.  Sadly, this is what happens to many believers:  they become filled with anger and rage because their rebuke has been rejected.  Instead of backing off of the pursuit of peace, they continue in a pursuit filled with anger, rage, and disrespect which does not benefit a pursuit of peace!

Scripture states this is how we should treat people:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.

Romans 12:20 NKJV

Could you imagine the kind of peace we could find if we treated our worst enemy with this type of humility and respect?  Though they may reject your rebuke today, if you treat them with this kind of respect, they may come to you tomorrow.  We cannot close the door on people out of our own wrath, because the Lord may lead your worst enemy to your door to taught His way of peace.  We live in a time where we could all benefit greatly from reflecting the peace of Christ on to all manner of people.


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