The Shalom of Advent (Part 2)

“They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:11, ESV)

 

I take great joy in giving the “just right” gift to my loved ones. This time of year the pursuit of the elusive “perfect” gift for everyone pervades my thoughts. I’m not so much seeking to buy my family and friends’ love with a gift, for me, it’s more about finding that one gift that shows how much I know them, love them and listen to them.

While finding an amazing gift for those I love is a noble pursuit, I’m called to pursue an even higher calling as a Christian. The Apostle Peter, in the verse noted above, calls followers of Jesus to actively seek peace, to pursue it. When I think of the verbs seek and pursue, I get the sense that they mean a relentless, one-tracked focus on the finding or attaining of something. This command from Peter finds itself in the middle of a diatribe from him to the church about how Christians should interact with others.

He calls his audience to be sympathetic, compassionate, to not repay evil with evil, to keep their tongues from deceit, etc. He finishes the section with the verse above as a way of summarizing his thoughts- seek peace and pursue it.

Welp, let’s think about the world around us. It seems to me that the natural, human tendency is to be unsympathetic, not compassionate, revengeful and deceitful towards those around us. Our first inclination, in most cases, is to selfishly protect and defend ourselves. We typically lean towards looking out for our own interests before looking out for anyone else’s.

We talked in my last post about how at Advent we celebrate the fact that Jesus came to bring peace in the relationship between us and God. Jesus came to reconcile us to our Father. Jesus also came to bring peace here on earth between us and others. We are called to proactively pursue that peace.

Proverbs tell us that, “Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.” (12:20) Think with me for a moment. Do we see many around us promoting peace or do we see more plotting of evil? Think about those in power who deceitfully plot evil. Do they seem to exude joy? Imagine, instead, if those who wielded power promoted peace. Think of the joy.

We can’t do much about the hearts of those around us or of those in positions of power. But, we can do a lot about ourselves. We can intentionally, at Advent (and beyond), learn more about what it means to seek, pursue and promote peace. We can ask ourselves in our daily interactions with others, “Is what I’m doing in this relationship promoting peace or sewing discord?”

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, ESV) “As far as it depends on you”, pursue peace in your everyday life. We can’t hold others responsible for promoting peace unless we ourselves are seeking it. My prayer this Advent season is that I would ask God how I can more earnestly seek, pursue and promote peace. Will you join me?

“So, let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words…” (Romans 14:19, The Message)

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, PEACE, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV, emphasis mine)

“Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name”

O Holy Night

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