“It is to peace that God has called us.” (1 Corinthians 7:15)
In today’s world of polarized politics and church-life, too often we are caught between people and groups that feel they have to take sides – that they are “right” and everyone else is “wrong.”
While there are certainly times that it’s important to stand up for “right” and fight the “wrong” in our world, these times actually occur less often than many of us think, and more often than not the things we feel we have to stand up and “fight” about are in the end relatively petty, selfish, and often self-centered issues that do not really matter one bit in big scheme of things.
In the 18th-century the founder of Methodism John Wesley once urged his Methodists “as to opinions that do not strike at the root of Christianity, we [should] think and let think” (from Wesley’s tract The Character of A Methodist)… meaning that if something is not absolutely central to who we are and what we do as followers of Jesus, then we need to be “big enough” and mature enough to allow others to have opinions, beliefs, and practices that are different than us without us feeling threatened by those.
Jesus paralleled this attitude when he himself said “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). And many years later, Saint Francis of Assisi offered this now famous prayer for us to become peacemakers:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
[–Saint Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226]