Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
This is not optional, it is a command. Most, okay maybe only really some will go to another person when they have been offended, hurt. But even less will take action if they were the offender. I know I am guilty. After all, it’s their problem if they are offended, especially if they are not even willing to talk about it or have rejected an honest apology. “After all they should take it to the cross [insert sarcastic tone]”. But our command is clear…WITHOUT IT NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD. It’s not exclusive, there are no exceptions. No one, that means both parties are held back from holiness. Our pursuit for peace with one another needs be done so with passion and urgency.
NO ONE will see the Lord if we do not passionately and urgently seek peace with one another.
Make sure no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. Hebrews 12:14-15
The root of bitterness is ugly and it runs deep; it spreads throughout families and infects entire groups. The root of bitterness is just the beginning to the division of the body of Christ. An issue between believers is an opening for that same bitter root to grow to their spouses, to their children, to friends, and so on. Bitterness grows unless ENTIRELY removed. Many times those that have been offended take this to heart. But how many of us hear this and say…”oh, so-n-so, really ought to be listening. They are so offended and hold on to stuff.” We have an attitude that it’s their problem and while that is partially true, it is the offenders issue too. We ought to be passionate about pursuing peace with EVERYONE. This is NOT just up to the offended but the offender too that must be just as passionate; not passing the responsibility off to the offended. “Well, I apologized and that should have been enough.” You are probably right. But this has nothing to do with being right, it has everything to do with pursuing peace.
How can one fall short of the grace of God? I think it has everything to do with being nice. Nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about being “nice”. Christian “niceness” is a gigantic LIE. You will find kindness, love, and mercy, but never does it say be “nice”. I believe being “nice” has robbed us of grace. By being “nice” we deny grace, and turn to works. Being “nice” rarely resolves bitterness, never promotes love, and is an injustice. You have taken the Lord off of the cross, and replaced him with yourself with “being nice” to one another. Need an example? A person decides they are upset after a church function, and makes a vague complaint using social media. The person making the complaint is now over it, thanks to a vague vent and a bunch of “likes”, but the once offender, sees the complaint later and is now very much the offendee. The offendee talks to everyone but the complainer. The offendee has made ripples in the pond of fellowship yet continues to be “nice” to the complainer. Everyone thinks because there is niceness all is well. Usually to be nice is just another way to lie. It is no different than crossing your fingers behind your back. Be kind instead, truly wanting what is best. We are called to be gentle and correct in love. To be kind would have been to go to that person in love and let them know what happened. Be patient with one another. AW Tozer in The Pursuit of God said “Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in ALL simple deeds and learn to find Him there [emphasis added].” I do not think we can find God in being “nice” because being “nice” is a lie.
Being nice is a gigantic LIE.
We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
We will never accomplish the squashing of the root of bitterness unless we set ourselves FIRST aside for God. Only then can our lives, our deeds, and our word be spirit led. If we are not first led by the spirit, we must ask then who is leading? Second, we must set ourselves aside for others. We love others simply because He loves us AND them too. If you value them as He does, then eating a little crow then does not seem quite so distasteful, differences are not so irritating. We must strive for “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things charity.” Are we really giving our brothers liberty when we stand in judgment, that they are so “offended”, that we avoid any kind of approach? Are we really giving our sisters liberty when we make character assumptions and share those negative assumptions with others? In the body of Christ we ought to have each other’s backs. No question! But rather all the world sees is knives. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35). It takes so much more than just being “nice”. God sees it, and so does the world.
Do you really “have their back” in all circumstances?
Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47
God is not asking you to make every member of the body your new found BFF. But if we want to grow in love, we must accept each other equally. There is no favoritism with God. There should be no division in the body (1 Cor 12:25).God see’s fit whom He wishes to add to the body (Matt 16:18). This body is His design (1 Cor 12:18). Yet how can you claim to know what the feet are doing if you never break bread with them? How do you suppose you would know the intent of the hands if you never break bread with them? The new comer gets greeted at the door, but does it end there? They are not truly added until they are breaking bread with in the body, are we including them? Is the mailing list updated periodically so no one is forgotten? Are new comers offered rides to bible studies? Or do we leave them to “fend for themselves”? When someone new invites you, are you too busy to find time because you have “plans” with the others? When someone comes to you with a prayer need, is there follow up? Prayer needs- Once expressed, are the clearest opportunity to act. Even if it is only a phone call, it is a green light to show love. After all it would just simply be “nice” to pray for them aloud during study showing concern but never giving it another thought once study has ended and life goes on. Prayer requests can sadly become biggest gap in the body. Someone is opening up, allowing you in, yet too many do not enter.
When you break bread with one another in your homes, who have you added, who’s offers have you declined?
So what now? I pray for a yielding body. Godly wisdom is not stiff-necked or stubborn when it comes to personal conflicts. A body submitted to godly wisdom is not afraid to yield or defer to another person’s view point as long as it does not violate essential truth, able to promote liberty. Pursue peace passionately, with urgency, and please quit just being “nice” to everyone.
If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18