“Be at peace with each other”, said Jesus to His disciples in Mark 9: 50.
He knew that harmony in the ranks was not a given. Even when He was with them, they argued over who should have the most important seats in heaven (Mark 10: 35 – 41), or who is the greatest (Luke 9: 46).
Perhaps that is one reason why he felt he had to make a point of giving them His peace in John 14: 27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives”. In other words, come on disciples, your lives together need to look different to the values you see in the world around you.
And perhaps that is why He knew and taught that humility must be the defining mark of a disciple. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10: 43).
Paul fleshes this out more in his letters to the early churches years later:
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Rom 12: 15 – 16). Can you hear the echoes of Jesus in this? Be humble, be a servant, live at peace with one another.
Paul adds more a couple of chapters later, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Rom 14: 19)
Someone might have asked Paul to expand further. In the nitty-gritty of church life, what does peace with one another actually look like on a daily basis?
Paul is happy to spell it out: Remember you are God’s people. Therefore your life must be different to the values you see around you. You are deeply loved by God, so extend that love to each other. Be compassionate, forgiving, gentle, kind. Give people space to fail and err more on patience than judgment. And just as Jesus gave his peace to his disciples, receive that peace for yourself and then give it to those around you.
Paul said it like this: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Col 3: 12 – 15)
Suggested prayer: Perhaps part of the prayer sometimes attributed to St Francis of Assisi and adapted by Sebastian Temple might help us here:
Make me a channel of Your peace
Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love
Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord
And where there’s doubt, true faith in You
© 1967, OCP Publications