The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with all.” This instruction is clear but it comes with an “if.” “If it is possible.” Paul knows that we are not always able to mend every wound. Every broken relationship cannot be reconciled. Some things will remain damaged.
That truth can be found throughout the Bible. A college student discovered he needed a course in the Bible in order to get his literature degree. He wrote home to his parents and asked them to mail him his Bible. His dad gently and thoroughly wrapped it and took it to the Post Office. The clerk looked at the carefully wrapped package and asked, “Anything in here that can be broken?” he asked. “Only the Ten Commandments.” Do you know why it is so easy to break them? All of them have something to do with relationship. All of them point to the work that it takes to be in relationship with neighbor, spouse, family or God. Relationships are fragile and easily bruised.
Leonard Sweet asks: “How many relationships can survive the break of health, the wreck of reputation, the remove of riches, the stain of scandal? How many relationships can handle what we might perceive as good news?”
When the lottery prize rises to the hundreds of millions, Julie and I play a game we call, “What we would do if we won the lottery?” Have you ever done that? We start making lists. We name all of the churches and schools we would give money to. We talk about how we would invest it and what trips we would take. Pretty soon, after about 20 minutes of this silly little game, we begin to argue about how much should go to family members and charities. One time we got a little upset. We argued. At some point we both looked at each other and had the exact same thought at the exact same moment: “My goodness, I hope we don’t win!”
You do know, don’t you, that the divorce rate among lottery winners is much higher than the divorce rate for the nation on the whole. Relationships are fragile.
“If it is possible,” Paul writes, “live at peace.” Perhaps the most important thing we can do is begin this work of living at peace with the ones we love the most.
Grace and peace to you,