Live in peace

Romans 12: 17-19 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Conflict doesn’t always work out great, and sometimes that means that you’re left with a broken or contentious relationship. In Romans, Paul encourages us to live at peace with others, even in situations where we might naturally be inclined to seek revenge.

This passage feels like it’s asking a lot when it says, “do what is right in the eyes of everyone” and “live at peace with everyone.” How is that even possible? And what if “everyone” doesn’t have your best interest in mind? Sometimes this might mean leaving situations that invite conflict or that harm you. Sometimes it might mean swallowing our pride and doing what is best for a group, rather than for ourselves.

So how do we see Jesus handling these moments? Pretty much anyone would have agreed that Jesus had the right to wish for evil on the Pharisees as he hung on the cross (and he had the power to call down terrible things as well). But he didn’t curse them. Instead he interceded for them and asked his father to forgive them, even as he experienced a horribly painful death at their hands. What does it look like for us to live like Jesus in this capacity?