Many times in my ministry I’ve been ask about these very words from Jesus in Matthew chapter 5 in the Sermon on the Mount. Even if you do not believe you have done anything wrong — and you may very well be right — does God want you to take the initiative to seek peace?
Q: What if you had no idea that you offended someone?
A: Well, if you have no idea whatsoever, then you’re not responsible. You aren’t responsible for what you don’t know. You are, however, called to live at peace with all people as far as it depends on you. But what if you do learn or overhear or even get a vague sense that things aren’t quite right between you and someone else? What then? Are you then responsible? Well, what do you think? I think “Yes.”
Q: Are you serious? To do what? Talk with the person? Confront the person? What exactly are you saying I’m supposed to do?
A: Just hold on a second. What’s the goal here? It seems to me the goal of taking the initiative always should be pretty straightforward — seeking to make peace. Now, that might begin with conversation. It could then progress to confrontation. It may involve merely saying kind words or clarifying hurt feelings. There could be several aspects to this, but the key is two words — making peace. The first step to making peace, though, is to “go.” You leave your gift on the altar and go.
Q: But Don, I don’t think you’re hearing me. I haven’t done anything wrong to that person. To take the initiative, to have to get up and go, seems so counter-intuitive. What’s up with me going first?
A: To me, the heart of the matter, the real bottom line, is not, “Were you right or wrong?” but “Will you be obedient?” God initiated peace with us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. So when we go, we are imitating God himself. I suppose, yes, it may feel counter-intuitive. But the Proverbs are clear that the way that may seem right to us can also lead to death (Proverbs 14:12). God’s ways lead to life. God loves us. He wants the fruit of peace to ripen in our lives. Seeking to make peace seems to be a very high value to God, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit.
Q: Well, what’s stopping you?