Striving for Peace
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (2 Peter 3:13-14)
Do you spend much time on the water, in a boat, fishing, or off the beach? Oceans, Lakes, rivers, and even creeks are relaxing and soothing to a troubled spirit. However, when Jesus began his public ministry, sitting in a boat off the shore of the Sea of Galilee, teaching the crowds, I doubt they felt relaxed. In fact, he was stirring them up, pronouncing blessings on the pour in spirit, those who mourned, the meek, the hungry and thirsty, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. How could they be all these things? Surely they were amazed that they might “see God” or “be called sons of God!” (Matthew 5:1-9) Yet that is exactly what Jesus promises to the elect, to those whose holiness is not their own but is from him. In Hebrews 12:14 “‘holiness’ refers to purity of life. It is provided by God (Heb. 13:21) and guided by his discipline (Heb. 12:10), but we must ‘strive’ for it.” (1)
The command to be holy and to be at peace with everyone isn’t comfortable because it demands that we depend upon God’s strength, wisdom, and holiness. We must “strive” for it—struggle, try, exert ourselves, and do our very best to be at peace with everyone. The writer of Hebrews reminds us of Jesus’s remarks—that this is the only way to see God. We see God by faith as we walk in his statutes and Spirit in this life. We will see him face-to-face one day, when we will be spotless and perfectly peaceful, without the struggle that we have here. Our future with Christ is a great encouragement and hope as we work out our sanctification, leaning on God’s grace. “For though holiness is not perfect in this life, yet it will be in heaven; and there is a perfection of it in Christ; and it is to be followed after, by going to Christ for more grace, and exercising faith upon him, as our sanctification.” (2) If we are regenerated in Christ by the Holy Spirit, we desire his holiness and will always receive God’s help to be his peacemakers when we strive for it.
As we end this short study on biblical peace, let’s remember that we already have peace with God through our salvation in Christ, and it is this peace that works in our relationships. So these commands are for those who are already pure in heart, by the grace of God. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all…let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 12:18; 14:19) Lord, help us to be peacemakers.
(1) The Reformation Study Bible, Hebrews 12:14, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.
(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Hebrews 12:14, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/hebrews-12.html