Luke 10:4-7 (CEV)
4 Don’t take along a moneybag or a traveling bag or sandals. And don’t waste time greeting people on the road. 5 As soon as you enter a home, say, “God bless this home with peace.” 6 If the people living there are peace-loving, your prayer for peace will bless them. But if they are not peace-loving, your prayer will return to you. 7 Stay with the same family, eating and drinking whatever they give you, because workers are worth what they earn. Don’t move around from house to house.
Have you ever given any thought to what it means to be peace-loving?
The dictionary definition that I get when I type “peace-loving” into Google is “inclined to avoid conflict or aggression”, but I really don’t think that’s what Jesus is talking about here.
I think, personally, that Jesus would be just as likely to flinch at the idea of this kind of definition of peace-loving as many of us would. Sure, it can “keep the peace” if we avoid conflict and aggression. And it’s very possible that those who are peace-loving will be less likely to encourage conflict and aggression, but I don’t think that’s the kind of “peace-loving” that Jesus is talking about at all!
In an age of internet arguments and fact-checking sites, in a world of polarized politics and complex social challenges, in a world of religious differences and cultural flux, vastly different views on all sorts of issues will crop up on a daily basis. And merely sticking our heads in the sand and choosing to be a people-pleaser in an attempt to achieve peace has rarely been a successful strategy on any type of long-term basis.
And yet, Jesus tells the 72 to go out and to offer a blessing of peace, and to look for and invest in people who are “peace-loving”.
So maybe it’s not this word that’s the problem. Maybe it’s our understanding of this word.
What if “peace-loving” had more to do with seeking out ways to love into those who are different than us?
What if “peace-loving” had more to do with seeking to understand the things that divide us, and looking for ways to build bridges between ourselves and others?
What if “peace-loving” had more to do with the investments we made in time and resources and priorities, so that instead of rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off, always looking for more, more, more, we were regularly and actively pursuing times of peace and rest and stillness – a speed and mode and approach to doing life that left room for peace?
What if “peace-loving” had “teeth” to it? What if it was willing to not only identify issues that were unjust in our society, but look for ways to resolve those issues, and then take leadership in moving forward on these issues and helping others to do the same?
What if “peace-loving” was about recognizing, in any given conversation, over any given issue, whether fear or love was driving this situation, and then looking for ways to interject love in place of fear?
What if “peace-loving” assumed the best in another as our starting point, and chose words and actions that would bring out that “best” in the other?
What if that was what “peace-loving” looked like.
Then what would you think of the word?Journal Questions:
- How do you understand the term “peace-loving”? Does it carry negative or positive connotations for you?
- Where do you find it easy to be “peace-loving”?
- In what contexts do you find it difficult to be “peace-loving”?
- If someone were to pray this blessing of peace on you and your home right now, would it be a blessing to you?