Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Can You Live in Peace with Everyone? Really?

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Live at peace with everyone – as far as it depends on you. For some people, we might wonder “How far do we need to be away from some people? A thousand miles?”

No one wants to embrace difficult people. They’re just so…difficult. We all have them. God has puts difficult people in our lives for us to learn to love. God has also put them there to do a little work on us. Now, if you’re thinking, “I don’t really have any difficult people in my life.” Well, guess what? It’s probably you!

When we encounter difficult people, the temptation is for us to be difficult in return. While we might feel justified by the situation, we can easily see that this will lead to no place good. Think about this: what if the people who bring out the worst in us are God’s tools for refining our character. Our problems and problem people are our teachers. Our impulse is that often we want to skip school.

If you’re still reading, you understand that these are not popular thoughts. Our prayers for difficult people, typically, are either that God would change them or remove them. Be honest. It’s true. But, our goal is not to be comfortable. God’s job is not to insulate us from the problems of the world. Jesus predicted trouble (John 16:33). Jesus’ life involved many difficult people: Judas, Herod, Pharisees, Sadducees, and the High Priest to name a few. He had some pretty despicable and powerful enemies. Jesus’ heart was always toward reconciliation.

Who is the difficult person who stands out in your life right now? What thoughts, attitudes and actions does this relationship evoke in you? You are being squeezed. What’s coming out? Rather than focusing on the difficulty of the difficult person, ask God how He plans to use this circumstance to refine your character.

If your difficult person is abusive or is threatening your safety, do not stay in that situation. Contact your church or a safe friend. Get help. Get out. Then, work from there.

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  1. After reading this and also "God's Heart Toward You" there are definitely people and situations screaming to me. Being an ambassador of peace is God's will; this is very clear. I'm thinking about the sermon when Perry said, "You really may need to run in and get your turkey leg and get out." I don't want to be comfortable and I do want to grow. But do we put ourselves in an environment with peers who speak foul language, who provoke us and repeatedly drain us. They're words stir us, isn't it time to separate ourselves from this pattern.

  2. This sounds like a difficult situation. While we should extend grace to others, we don't need to let them run over us. It's important to have healthy boundaries in situations like these.

    If these are friends or co-workers, it might be easier just to find some new friends. After all, they don't sound like friends at all.

    If these are family members, this makes things more difficult. You can't really divorce your family.

    Whether these are "friends" or relatives, the best route is to let them know how you feel when they provoke you or use foul language. It might be difficult to say this in person, but you could write a letter. Maybe something like this:

    Dear Friends/Family,

    I have had a hard time being around you lately. The foul language is hard for me to deal with. Being provoked by you is even worse.

    I am not saying that I am better than you, because I'm not. If you know me, then you should know that I am not better than anyone.

    I would love to spend time with you, but the language and the put downs are getting in the way. If we can be together without this going on, I'd love to be around. If that's not possible, then please understand why I can't be around you.


    Pray about the situation and see if sending something is the right thing to do. Subjecting yourself to a difficult situation doesn't necessarily make you more spiritual. There will be plenty of other problems along the way.

    I hope this helps,