Ask A Pastor
By Rev. Beverly Kahle
St. Paul’s UCC, Nashville
“What does it mean when Paul calls us ‘to live at peace, with everyone’?”
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 8.18 (NIV)
This verse is enclosed in a portion of Romans that begins with verse 9 continuing to v. 21 that the NIV identifies as “Love in Action”.
This is in an even larger context found in Romans 12.1 -16.27, where Paul talks about what I like to call “practical” or “Practicing Christianity.”
For us to understand this verse, in context, it is framed by the first verses of this section, Romans 12.1-2 -Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What is God’s Will?
We’re to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbor as ourselves. It is to love.
Paul invites us to be transformed by renewing our minds by filling them with thoughts of love, peace, kindness, generosity, etc. – virtues that lift others and ourselves up rather than destroy. We turn from bitterness, anger, hate, jealousy, greed and things that separate us from one another.
We do this by willfully deciding and choosing to do so. We make the choice to love.
Love, then, moves from a willful choice to a deliberate act. Paul names them.
I encourage you to read the whole section, it is quite specific about actions that bring about love. And then buried right between “do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” and “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath” is our nugget – “if possible, as much as it depends on you, live at peace”
Therefore, we decide not to hold a grudge or find way to get even as we trust God will take care of any judgment. We are called to live in ways that show Christians aren’t so different from anyone else. I think a huge danger for Christians is that we get too full of ourselves and hold ourselves as better than others. Paul nips that weed at the roots when he tells us not to do that – that everyone has equal value in the eyes of God. As such to live at peace with one another means that we put action to those words everyone is valuable and should treated as such.
We should try to fit in as long as it does not violate God’s desires for our lives. We should live peaceably – not starting arguments or provoking them, but trying to get along with one another.