“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” Psalm 34:14
In the midst of Psalm 34 come these challenging words: “seek peace and pursue it.” As King David writes this psalm, he reflects on God’s salvation towards him. Rejoicing in God’s goodness, David describes what a person who knows God’s grace looks like: it looks like someone who turns from evil and does good; it looks like seeking peace and pursuing it.
Often I can think about Christians as those who have received peace, which of course is true. If we are trusting in Jesus, we have been given peace: peace with God and peace with others. Paul affirms to the Ephesians that Jesus “himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Following Jesus means we have received peace.
But being a Christian also means seeking peace too. If we know the peace of God that passes all understanding, then we will be drawn to be peacemakers ourselves. Peace is something we know, we love, and we value.
More than that, we are not just to love peace, but we are to seek it. David describes the one who knows God as someone who pursues peace. We don’t just wait for peace to happen or to come our way. We go out to find it, we are driven to make peace happen, we are those who run after peace and opportunities to cultivate peace.
What does that look like in the life of a believer? It certainly means seeking peace on a global scale. God is at work reconciling all of creation to himself in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:20). As his disciples, we follow his lead in seeking peace between people and between us and God’s creation. Peace should be a constant theme of our prayers. Where we are able, we should join in action for peace around the world.
But global peace can seem like a huge and insurmountable thing to pursue. It’s only possible when God brings his kingdom in completely and fully at Jesus’ return. For that reason, the pursuit of global peace can leave us exhausted and tempted to stop the pursuit of peace.
That is why we need to seek peace and pursue it in the detail of our everyday lives as well. We are to think of peace globally and locally; we are to pursue it in the worldwide agenda, and in the nitty-gritty of our everyday lives.
In fact, it can sometimes feel easier to be a peacemaker on the global stage than it is to pursue peace in the mess of our relationships. Yet God calls us to both. He asks us to pray for peace in the world, and to work for peace in our own families and friendships. Both are needed, and both are part of the pursuit of peace. May God prevent us from pursuing one and neglecting the other, but rather give us grace to be peacemakers in every area of our lives.