|Romans 12:18 – “As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”|
Are you like the cannibal who was fed up with people? Perhaps you can sympathize with Linus in the Peanuts cartoon. Charlie Brown tells him he should “love humanity.”
But Linus responds, “I love humanity. It’s the people I can’t stand.”
It’s even worse when it happens in churches.
People get on the outs with each other, sometimes over something trivial if you ever stood back and look at it. Time builds resentment until finally; one can’t stand it any longer.
And they just ditch that church for another.
The problem? They don’t know why they left so, in a new church, they will discover a new nemesis and they will become just as frustrated. They don’t leave smart and sad, knowing why they must go. They leave dumb and mad. They don’t know what happened so they will repeat their mistake.
Two pieces of advice come from ancient church leaders that are as fresh as today.
One is from an anonymous source in the 4th Century: If a trial [with other people] comes upon you in the place where you live, do not leave that place when the trial comes. Wherever you go, you will find that what you are running from is ahead of you. So stay until the trial is over, so that if you end up leaving, no offense will be caused, and you will not bring distress to others who live in the same neighborhood.
The other comes from Anselm of Canterbury in the 12th Century: a tree can’t thrive because it’s “frequently transplanted or often disturbed. If he often moves from place to place at his own whim, or remaining in one place is frequently agitated by hatred of it, [he] never achieves stability with roots of love.”
Paul would tell us that in any circumstance, including tense ones, we have a single responsibility. “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:16–18)
As far as it depends on you. We will meet many who are rude, inconsiderate, and some just downright hateful. Just remember–as far as it depends on me…that’s my responsibility. And it may calm troubled waters.
-Robert G. Taylor-