Be At Peace With All

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. - Romans 12:17-18

Arizona Senator John McCain passed away last week at the age of 81, after a long and difficult battle with cancer.   McCain was a Vietnam war hero who turned to politics after returning from the war.  He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1987 and served there until his death last week.   

McCain was also a presidential candidate more than once and became the Republican nominee for President in 2008, an election he eventually lost to Barack Obama. 

Despite his bitter disagreements with Obama on policy, McCain refused to participate in the nasty personal attacks that many were leveling at his then-rival, referring to him instead as "...a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues..."  

Whether you agreed or disagree with McCain's politics, it was impossible to ignore his unflagging commitment to his country and his dogged belief in the virtue of civil discourse.  

After his death last week, McCain's long-time aide Rick Davis delivered a farewell address that he'd helped McCain write.  Within this address, McCain offered a warning to leaders who delight in creating division rather than healing it--to fomenting hostility rather than resolving it.  

This passage of the address was so moving to me: 
"We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been."
The Apostle Paul exhorted those who follow Jesus to do whatever is in their power to be at peace with everyone, to not repay evil for evil, to do what is right.  I believe these words are so powerful and true today, perhaps more than ever. 

As followers of Jesus, we have a duty to be peacemakers, to embody the love of Jesus even to those with whom we vehemently disagree.  This is a hard thing sometimes, especially when the people on the other side have resorted to nastiness.  

But when we refuse to participate in this kind of behavior and lay down our weapons (so to speak) we stop the cycle of violent, harmful speech in its tracks.  This is how we share the light of the world.  This is how we live in Christian hope.  

May you find ways to be a peacemaker in your own life and your own circles of influence today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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