"Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14 (NRSV)
There are many things humankind cannot achieve without God; chief among them is living peacefully. As we discussed in worship a few Sundays ago, the first thing the second generation of man does is murder his brother. From there, the generations grew more wicked and self-centered, reveling in conflict and conceit until the flood. Even after a fresh start, humankind continued to gravitate towards sin. Part of that sin is our natural carnal bent towards destructiveness. No, it's fair to say peace doesn't come naturally to us.
God working through us is the only sure path to peace. Peace with each other, and peace for our souls. The pursuit of peace leads to holiness, instilling the light of Christ in us. It's that light shining through that sets us apart. Through our example, other people may come to know the Lord and find peace.
Paul says that unless we come to know that kind of peace, we can't see God. There is no room for bitterness, ugliness, and conflict in God's house. As my friend Genevie says, “God don’t like ugly.” Christ's reign is one of love and peace, and as his disciples, we must seek the same. Thanks to God's grace, we have the help of the Holy Spirit to guide us in our pursuit.
God, we come to you today confessing we often fail in pursuing peace. We allow disagreements to divide us, separating us into “us” and “them.” We permit Satan to manipulate us, driving wedges of racism, sexism, gender identity, and politics -- using every means he can find. God, we know you are greater than Satan, and it is through you we can find peace. Please forgive us and help us in our pursuit. Melt and mold our hearts of stone, restore us into your image. Help us to love each other and you as we should. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.