Everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Relationships are being tested like never before. Since the growth of COVID-19, people have been at arm’s length with each other. Separated by “social distancing” a term manufactured in haste to describe how people should be detaching themselves physically from one another.
But we’ve been “social distancing” ourselves relationally for some time.
We’ve been sold a bill of goods with the idea that we can replace direct human interaction with digital human interaction, achieving the same levels of satisfaction, communication, and affection. While this idea fills the bank accounts of tech firms and their investors, it leaves a deep hole in the soul of the victims who have abandoned direct personal interaction and communication for the empty calories of digital connections.
The idea of Jesus that we be “at peace with one another” certainly sounds like something that we can all agree on. But I’m afraid it’s not.
· Look at our current political scene – there is no movement towards being at peace with one another.
· Look at the courts and the volume of suites filling them to overflowing – there is no movement toward being at peace with one another.
· Look at how people are treated on social media – there is no movement toward being at peace with one another.
· Look at the amount of civil unrest plaguing our country – there is no movement toward being at peace with one another.
· Look at the rise in crime and drug abuse – there is no movement toward being at peace with one another.
· Look at something as simple as whether people should be inoculated or wear a mask – there is no movement toward being at peace with one another.
Jesus is not giving this as a suggestion to improve society. He’s giving it as a command, an order to be obeyed. And the order of the day is not attack, but peace.
Peace, the restoration of what was the natural, God-made order of things.
If evolution is right, peace is not the natural order of things. The world came about through a massive explosion. If evolution is right, one life form grew stronger at the expense of the others. If evolution is right, the strong eat the weak. If evolution is right, one species develops, gets an advantage, exploits it, and eventually destroys and replaces the competition.
Evolution, and the physical laws of the universe do not promise or promote peace. They are, in one sense, bitter enemies of peace. They don’t agree about peace. They don’t work together for peace’ They don’t even play nicely together. They do not have a common goal of peace. They don’t work together for peace.
But this kind of realization leaves us so empty, so helpless, so powerless. How can there be any reason or meaning for life if this is the truth. This was part of the thinking that Joni Mitchell felt and used when she wrote these lyrics:
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
back to the garden.
So, into this world filled with conflict in the natural world, and in the relational world of people, Jesus commands his followers to be actively at peace with one another. And not sometime in the future. The command to be a peace is for right here. Right now. Right away.
This isn’t a contradiction: to order peace. It’s like my mom ordering my brother and I to make up after a fight, after wrestling on the floor until I started crying and screaming. We both belonged to her, she had authority over us and was in a position to order, even demand that we make peace with one another.
The order is clear, be at peace with one another. But the implementation of it is most difficult. Not because of evolution, but because of us. In the words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
We are what stands in the way of peace. And Jesus, the prince of peace is our only hope. He made peace possible between us and God, and he makes peace possible between people. But the first relationship must be healed before the second can be addressed.
Where are you with your first relationship?
 https://youtu.be/cRjQCvfcXn0?t=272  Woodstock, by Joni Mitchell, © October 22, 1969; Siquomb Publishing Corp  created by cartoonist Walt Kelly