"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18
I'm a middle child. We are supposed to be the peacemakers. I think I broke the mold on that one. In my memory, I was the one to stir up trouble. As far as I can remember, my brother and sister got along very well. I was the trouble-maker. If there was a fight to be had, I would pick it. If there was trouble to be found, I would find it. I could find trouble if it were a needle in a haystack. As a middle child, I felt I had to fight to get my due.
I think that by default, Christians are combative. Everything we stand for is in opposition to other people. Most of society encourages doing what you feel like doing. Christ commands us to follow Him regardless of the cost (Matthew 19:21). He tells us that unless we are willing to leave those we care about, we cannot follow Him (Luke 14:26). He is indeed scandalous because His teachings are opposed to what the world teaches. He does not fit in with the flow of this world.
So how are we to make sense of these two ideas? On one hand, we are to live in peace with all men. On the other, we are to take up our cross and follow Him, though the price will be costly and the casualties great. I've lost one of my friends because of my faith in Christ. I'm sure there will be others that reject me for this reason. Does living in peace with all men mean being passive and tolerant? Does it mean being tolerant to the point of agreeing with everyone simply because we are to live in peace?
Living in peace with all men does not mean living a lifestyle of tolerance. It means that we are to love others so much that we consider ourselves less than they (Philippians 2:3). It means that we are to follow the Lord's example and humble ourselves. It means that though they mock us and spit on us, we are to love them with a zealous love. It is possible to do this and not be tolerant of their beliefs that reject Christ as Lord. We have a perfect example to follow.
In Matthew 10:16 Jesus says "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."
I believe sometimes we misconstrue who Jesus is. We think of Him as being quiet, shy even. Maybe in your mind He's the guy in the class that doesn't talk much, and when He does you have to strain to hear Him. He's so "humble" that He's almost invisible. In today's culture, the idea of being humble has come to have a negative connotation instead of a positive one. It means not having an opinion of your own. We have defined humility as passivity. Thus, when we prescribe humility to Jesus we give him the personality of being flaccid and lifeless. How wrong we are.
We believe in a Christ who was strong enough to stand in front of the rulers and authorities and stand His ground. We believe in a Christ who turned over the tables of money changers because they were debasing His house. We believe in a Christ who spoke to the winds and they obeyed Him. A man who could do all of these things is not passive. He is to be feared.
So take off your glasses of disillusionment and see Him for who He is. See Him as the man who loves you enough to wash your feet, but fearsome enough to cause the demons to tremble. See Him as He is, Jehovah-shalom our Peace. Living in peace with all men does not mean laying down so you can be walked on. Christ did not do this. It also does not mean that you are to stir up trouble. Even if you're the middle child. It means following your Christ in such a way that causes you to wash the feet of others...while the heart within you beats with the power of the Lion of Judah.
Jehovah-shalom, we praise you because you are strong and mighty. We praise You because You are our peace. We praise You because You have given us the perfect example for how we are to live our lives. We pray today that You would show us what it means to be shrewd as snakes, but innocent as doves. Help us to have the strength we need to love people, despite their rejection of You. Make us like You...the perfect marriage of lion and lamb.