When I was younger, I was always asking “God questions,” almost always revolving around the word “why.” Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? Where should I go next? Why do I need to do this?
Of course as a parent, I told my kids that sometimes you just have to do stuff and don’t question it, right? Things like yes, you need to study algebra and stop asking why you’ll need to know all of this. But regardless of age and experience, we can still find ourselves asking why. Why am I here? What do I need to do for the rest of my life? And as we get older we want more profound answers than “because I said so.”
In our current teaching series we are seeking to answer the most fundamental “why” question everyone faces in life – What on Earth Am I Here For?
In this blog post, I would like to partly answer that question And that partial answer centers around one verse, Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
This scripture seems so simple, yet to apply it in real time and to our real relationships can be extraordinarily challenging. It is challenging because it squarely puts the total responsibility for all of the effort on those of us who are Christ followers. As Christians, we have been officially challenged by the word of God to go well past our comfort zone to proactively forgive, mend fences, overlook slights, ignore bad manners and love the unlovable.
I know what you are thinking. Paul gave us an out – an escape clause, when he said, “as far as it depends on you?” How far is answered by whatever is needed to live in peace with everyone. because in just a couple verses later Paul tells us, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:20-21.
The point that the apostle Paul is making in this scripture is that sometimes the wisest and most helpful thing to do may also be the toughest… blessing the person(s) who are stepping on your last nerve, or is a monument to the lack of ethics, or won’t cut their grass, or keeps saying Roll Tide just to ridicule your FSU Seminoles. Some people…
It is my experience that most people interpret the “as far as depends on you,” to really mean “as long as it’s easy and comfortable.” I will grant you that it is not always possible to make someone live at peace with us , but we can be a reflection of Christ by forgiving and loving them. When asked what the greatest Commandment was in Matthew 22, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So, loving your God and reflecting Him in our life by loving others, is a pretty good answer to the “why am I here question. “
Romans 12:18 is not just making a statement, it’s asking a question. God is saying I know you don’t think it’s your fault. I know you didn’t lower your ethics to win that customer or falsify some information to get into that school, but I have to ask you anyway. Have we done everything possible to diffuse the situation and live at peace with the other person?
Letting people see Jesus means we have to start accepting responsibility for the condition of your surroundings and that if there is to be peace, it may all depend on you. Living at peace means putting aside all of those things which keep us from bringing people into the presence of Christ. This may be as small a thing as a kind email coupled with a sincere prayer for the person. It may be as much as blessing them in some unexpected way and apologizing for your part. It just may require that first step.
Today, l challenge you to live in the, “as far as it depends on you!” Don’t expect anything in return from another person and just simply go forward where “it is possible” and let the love of Christ in you, seep into your relationships. Today, choose to live at peace with everyone! (Even if they are not FSU fans.)