My Musings – “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” – John Wayne as J.B Books in The Shootist 1976.
As I’ve noted before in my blogs, John Wayne was my favorite actor. Like many, I admired his swagger. Also like many, to me this creed that his movie character lived by sounds fair. Yet it is a worldly creed. We must aim higher.
Paul states a somewhat other worldly creed in the above condensed verses. To me the key phrase is “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
How Far – “The problem is, “as far as it depends on [us]” isn’t really that far most of the time. All too often we are very thin-skinned when it comes to being “wronged,” “insulted” or “laid a hand on.” But rather than take revenge, we are to “overcome evil with good.“
With Everyone – “Other people” are not just family and friends. Not just fellow Christians. Not just Americans. Not just the same ethnic group. Not just Democrats or Republicans. Not just those who share our worldview and opinions. Everyone means all people, even our enemies.
Be At Peace – Apparently this means more than avoiding conflict. When (not if) the “other people” wrong us, insult us or lay a hand on us (essentially act like an enemy) we are to feed them if they are hungry. Give them something to drink if they are thirsty. Elsewhere, Jesus says to the extent we do this to the “least of these,” we do it to Him.
If Possible – At last – the fine print, the loophole? I don’t think so. There will be times that “as far as it depends on you” will not be far enough no matter how far you bear with it. But even then “do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19, NIV 1984). Walk away and let God deal with it.
My Advice – These are hard words. But Kingdom living has a higher calling than worldly living. Our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7, NIV 1984).