“Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. 7 I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” Psalm 120:6-7 NIV
This psalm is a song of ascent, sung or spoken by weary pilgrims making their way to the holy places of Jerusalem. They were going to a place of worship, a holy sanctuary resplendent with peace. They were not thinking of war, in fact they were weary of bloodshed and just wanted to be with people who worshipped the Prince of Peace. To prefer peace is a surprisingly rare trait among people, then and now.
I noticed not long ago, as I entered a room for a prayer meeting, that New Life has become a place of peace. Couples, students and children were milling about, engaged in casual dialogue and unhurried conversations. Not everyone was smiling and there were no plastic grins, but there was an air of authenticity, a relaxed spirit of sincere friendship.
This did not happen without conflict or scars, but we made choices along the way to choose relationships over ideological differences. I realize there will be skirmishes among people, because where two or more are gathered, there will be, at some point, fusses. Even in the middle of conflict,, though, we can choose to think the best about one another and to dismiss gossip for what it is. We will not always get it right, but when we know we have offended, we will be quick to repent. It is what a people of peace do, it is who we are.
I make no assumptions that peace will always define us because that only happens when the wars of our inner soul are settled and won. Peace inside me means I can be at peace with others on the outside. This means that every day, we have to take an honest, sometimes painful stare into our own souls. I do know, though, that peace is definitely worth that daily fight.