We're spending some time over the next few days seeing what Hebrews has to say about peace. How can we pursue it and make it part of our daily choices, our everyday lifestyle? Maddie writes for us today on what it looks like to live with kingdom perspective.
"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy."
"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)
There’s something about January that suggests a time of cleansing and refreshing. Whilst I’ve never been one to adopt New Year’s resolutions, I’ve always been partial to a spring clean, a clearing out of the old, to make way for the new. Yet this has always been material.
When reflecting on these passages in Hebrews, however, I’ve been challenged to look at this as an opportunity to hold a clear out of the emotional things I’ve been holding onto, the hurts and pains that I don’t need to carry over into the New Year. January marks the perfect point in the year for a fresh start, and today I want that to be a challenge to live distinctively by letting go.
This passage Hebrews 13 tells us that God is the God of peace, and that He will equip us to do everything in His strength. This helps us when we look at Hebrews 12 verse 14 (which we'll look at more on Saturday!) where we’re instructed to live in peace with everyone. This is everyone. Not just the people we find easy to love, but those who if we’re being truly honest we find it difficult to love, those who we clash with, those who do wrong to us, those who don’t fit nicely into our circle of friends. This isn’t a passive instruction, simply not letting conflict rise up, but a calling to actively pursue peace.
Romans 12:18 says: ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’. And here, the emphasis is put on you. You can’t be responsible for how the other person may act in a situation, but you are responsible for your own actions.
This is where living distinctively becomes a necessity.
This is what it looks like to live with a kingdom perspective.
As an older sister, I was often told to rise above my little brother’s actions and not seek revenge. I used to get incredibly frustrated that he was able to do what he liked, but it was my responsibility to not retaliate. But it is in these moments, the seemingly trivial, everyday moments, that we need to choose to live like Jesus. It’s rising above and showing Jesus’ love to others in situations where that’s often the more difficult option. As we see in these passages, it is only through this that we will be able to see the Lord, something that is arguably a greater reward than a fleeting moment of pleasure caused by retaliation.
In order to succeed at living in peace with everyone though, we need to remove the roots of bitterness. Whilst at the surface it may appear that you are living in peace with everyone, as long as roots of bitterness remain hidden beneath the surface this can’t be the case. The fruits they produce are often in the form of physical manifestations of anger and guilt, the very existence of which hampers our relationship with God. If these roots are left over time they can fester away, drawing us further from our calling to live in peace with everyone.
In order to get rid of these roots of bitterness, we need a radical inner change. But this is not something we are expected to do on our own. As Katie wrote a couple of weeks ago, it is Jesus that brings about this change. Jesus is the only one who can give us peace with God, it is through Him and the example He set for us that we are able to live in peace with everyone
So this January I encourage you to spend some time with Jesus, asking him to illuminate the roots of bitterness that you have been holding on to, and to help you let go of them. I can’t promise it’ll be easy, but I can promise that Jesus will be there with you every step of the way, and if the reward is seeing the Lord, it is so so worth it.
As it says in the Beatitudes: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’
Let’s make 2018 the year where we are the peacemakers and pure at heart, because only then can we truly be called children of God.
I'm a 3rd year at Durham studying Education and Geography. I love Jesus, ice cream and baking (especially combinations of all three). I'm excited to spend this year chasing after God and seeing what my walk with him looks like beyond Durham.