Peace has never been easy, but it has constantly been a desire rooted in the hearts of nearly all people across all generations and cultures. Followers of Jesus who lived in Rome shortly after His death wrestled with this desire for peace. Peace seemed impossible as they lived and worked in the midst of an empire that was growing increasingly hostile towards them. (It wouldn’t be long before Emperor Nero began throwing Christians to lions in the coliseum). Paul in a letter to them gave advice that was both clear and concise. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). In two short words, “if possible”, Paul conveyed a painful truth: peace isn’t always possible. Some nations will always fight. Some families will never get along. Some people, no matter how kind and loving you are to them, will always treat you poorly.
So, when people you love continue to treat you poorly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have failed them in some way. No one has the power to make another person happy or healthy. It would be an awesome superpower to have, but it does not exist. When we accept that we can not have peace with all people, we are ready to embrace the second half of Paul’s statement, “so far as it depends on you…”. The key to peace-seeking is to understand that peace has to start and sometimes end inside of me. The world, or our spouse, or dad, or a past friend can hate us if they choose, but the virus of hate ends when it’s not able to contaminate me and cause me to hate in return those who have wronged me. External peace is wonderful, but internal peace is all we can control. I can live peaceably in the midst of people who do not desire peace. So, I pray that today, so far as it depends on you, you have peace.