October 23, 2013 - The Bible says, in Hebrews 12:14, that we should "pursue peace with all men." This is an interesting scripture and one we could find very difficult to keep. Surely there are people who God does not want us to pursue peace with! We are living in a time when opinions of people are rampant.
This is not just true through the public media, but now through social media—we all have a constant opportunity to like or dislike something.
Being encouraged to make comments can be good, until acute differences become evident.
I have often heard that we should not talk about politics or religion if we want to get along. These are definitely more charged than most discussions, but environmental issues and economic issues could certainly be added to the list.
Some people are just as emotional about the entertainment industry as well. With all of the opportunities to express ourselves, the chance to be filled with animosity against one another are constantly presented to us.
Many sites are purposely geared toward creating this environment. It serves many people well to get people on their side and see the need to defend themselves from adverse movements. This can sell books, increase viewers for programs, and create a niche market for someone to benefit from the animosity they create in others.
As a Christian, I must always remind myself that Jesus Christ is the prince of peace. If I want to be under His influence, I must also be a person who pursues peace.
This scripture not only advises us to pursue peace with all people, but also warns us to be careful "lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble"; because through this, "many people become defiled."
In this day, I am observing many people with bitter roots. Anger always seems to be under the surface, and often interferes with the ability to deal with the pressure human relationships often create.
The scriptures tell a story of a man named Simon who came to a personal encounter with God. Initially, he had a great testimony that impacted many people; however, it wasn't long before he was at odds with the leaders and proposing to use his newfound faith for personal gain.
The Apostles recognized immediately that "he was poisoned by bitterness." Although it is not recorded in the scripture, church tradition says that he went on to become a great adversary of the church. How sad to have such a great experience, yet find oneself in a place contaminated by bitterness.
The poison of bitterness has not only hindered the Christian experience for many, it has also manifested in people's relationships, particularly as the poison of many marital relationships.
Bitterness can be a root cause of problems, yet one we do not recognize until it is to late. This is why we must be so careful to pursue peace with all people, because we never know when the offenses we are picking up become rooted in our experience.
As a Christian leader, on many occasions, I could have allowed the countless voices of opposition to Christianity, and the moral code we hold, to put me on the defense and make me feel as though I must declare war on the opposition. However, as we go forth, we must all remind ourselves that the scriptures say we need to have "our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace."
Moreover, in Romans 10:15 it says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" I want my feet to carry me through life, knowing that the way of Christ is the way of Life!
The Rev. Loren Covarrubias is pastor of Mt. Zion Church