Religion and Peace: Can those two work together?

KJV: If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

The Christian Bible: You must stop paying back to anyone something bad for something bad! You must be continually providing only whatever is ideal in the sight of all men! If possible, so far as it depends on you, you must be continually at peace with all humans! You must stop getting justice for yourself.

The Message Bible: Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do.

In my view of God's plan for his family - these are the things we should cuss and discuss. Although the other things we love to talk into the ground are fun to get into now and then - issues like how to get along with people we can't tolerate, how to live humble lives in a prideful world, and how to offer our bodies as living sacrifices are what really ought to occupy the bulk of our time together as a family.  God has given each of us wisdom to share!. Through our different histories and experiences we can all 'edify and encourage' each other on these parts of our lives that really matter.

I know some may be tired of hearing me talk about pride vs. humility, but I have grown to see so much more about that in the past couple of years. I compare it to salt in our diets. When the doctor tells someone they must give up salt - they think - well shoot, I really don't use a lot...I won't have much problem cutting back. However, it soon becomes amazing to see all the places salt hides in our foods tho - foods we love - even sweet foods are laden with salt. We see that we have a huge undertaking to try to remove it from our meals. Well, pride is exactly the same. We see it in big issues - in folks who take advantage of those less fortunate, or people who crack racial jokes and think the color God painted their skin is somehow better simply because it is theirs. However, pride is actually in *everything* we do - it is how we operate within every situation. It is how we react to being taken advantage of - it's the feeling of despair when someone does something against us - it's thinking that what we think/feel/understand/believe is of any great consequence to others.

Well, that was a long paragraph that seems off the subject - but I believe pride is what drives our ability to be at peace with each other. The verse very clearly says "as far as is possible with you - which completely lets the other person off the hook as to solving the problem. We are not to expect or manipulate folks into performing in such a way as to make them more palatable to us - but we are to honor them by OUR choice of how to react. Only humble attitudes can repay evil with good.

The author of Hebrews makes this expectation a bit stronger, by saying: "Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise, you'll never get so much as a glimpse of God."

He/she goes on to say that we need to see this as so important that we actively "make sure no one is left out of God's generosity" We need to not only watch carefully for our own peaceful attitudes, but need to actively pursue peace among others in the body as well. "SO THAT YOU WILL SEE GOD" That's frightening to me. See - that is exactly what religious thought has perverted. It has become correct to preserve and maintain doctrine and dogma above all - to the point that we are most correct when we are standing against others who are in disagreement. However, God never even hints that doctrines or understandings are what puts us in with the 'in crowd.' We may be able to quote verses and quote commentaries on verses, and quote historians on commentaries on verses....but if God is looking instead at how we lived peacefully among *all* men - where do we stand?

The flesh rises up when we are attacked. Our self esteems are injured and our reaction is to hit back. However, I truly feel that the lower our self esteem is - in reality the greater our pride. The prideful person can't tolerate disagreement or put downs to his character - the way he is viewed by others is of utmost importance and must be preserved at ALL costs - no matter who is knocked down in the process.

Finally - one more verse as example:

Col 3:15 Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace.

You know - it doesn't say 'pursue the peace of God" - it doesn't say "let the peace of God abide in your hearts" - it says let His peace RULE there. That is only time that Greek word for 'rule' appears in the Bible and it means to govern or prevail. God's peace should set the law or make the decision that governs ALL our reactions and dealings with others - totally independent of how they have acted towards us. Man, that's hard - but we'll be able to know how much closer we are drawing towards God as we see it become more our 'norm' to react that way.

"Your old life was a life shaped by *things* and *feelings* instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

"... now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish, and non Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ.."

"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe that God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it."

"Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other... in step with each other." Col 3 - The Message.