Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding Romans 14:19 

Peace is something we all long for, some days more than others. We look at the world around us and see wars seemingly everywhere. There are displaced people, children in refugee camps, families disrupted by war and threats of war. Then there are conflicts that are more verbal – political candidates who don’t listen and compromise, but who seem to seek out conflicts among various factions.

It is not enough to just not do hurtful things. Rather we must try to do useful good things and pursue peace as we do that. The Nobel Peace prize has  been awarded to 111 individuals and 27 organizations since 1901. Some of the laureates did work on peace between warring nations, many others worked to increase international understanding, for work on climate changes, to improve economic status for all, and to provide enough food for all.

These are positive actions.

Paul urges his readers, in Romans, to not judge others or disparage them, but to work for mutual upbuilding. Building up others will certainly reduce conflicts, and lead to peaceful interactions and conversations. The spiritual, Down by the Riverside, dating to before the Civil War, talks about pursuing peace, about getting along with others. One different line in each stanza, of which there have been many. A few of them:

  • Gonna lay down my sword and shield, (down by the riverside, repeated three times each verse)
  • Gonna talk with the Prince of Peace
  • Gonna shake hands around the world
  • Gonna cross the river Jordan
  • Gonna walk down that road of peace
  • Gonna take all of my brethren

With the chorus

I ain't gonna study war no more
Study war no more

Creator God, Help us to pursue peace instead of studying war. How do you do it, O God? Holding back when you want to lash out? Forgiving and not striking back? Loving enemies? Being kind to them? Peacemaking is hard, O God. We will try, but please give us wisdom and patience. With joy in our hearts, we praise and honor you, great source of peace.  Amen

Chris Gabel