Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness
without which no one will see the Lord.
This Scripture speaks to me on a very personal level today. For the past two days my husband and I had the joy of helping our niece move into her college dorm. As her aunt and uncle, we had the luxury of stepping back and observing all the freshmen as they experienced this first major step towards a new stage in their lives. Some showed exaggerated confidence; but most exhibited a mixture of apprehension, uncertainty and excitement. And I thought of all the young people across the country undergoing this same event, and of their parents who were letting go; many for the first time.
What were all the moms and dads thinking, as they dealt with their own emotions? I know what I would wish for each of these young adults .... and it is the words of Hebrews 12:14. Whether it be the first year of college, where one is on their own in the world for the first time; or us "seasoned" veterans who interact with the world in a myriad of ways, we should all pursue peace with everyone we come in contact with. That "peace" is the harmonious contentment that comes from seeing others through the lens of the Gospel.
I watched my niece and her two new roommates; young women who were meeting for the first time. They were the embodiment of what it will mean to find that peace. They are from different backgrounds, different races, and different parenting styles. Yet, they will need to learn to regard each other with respect and appreciation for their differences. Shouldn't we all be "striving" for that same peace?
Additionally, I would tell my niece and her fellow freshmen to pursue the holiness that this Scripture encourages. Do not conform to this world and all the temptations that will be presented to you. You will be told that this is your time to experiment with new ideas, new morals, and new adventures; a time to stretch your parents' boundaries and set your own limits. I am not naive enough to think that she will not test those boundaries; we all have done so, because we are not perfect. But she is much further in her walk with the Lord than I was at that age. So, I would remind her that God has called her, and her unique faith sets her apart from those who do not know Him. She can be "of" this world, but not "in" the world ... an apt reminder for us all.
And lastly, I love this Scripture because it tells us that we can live our lives in peace and holiness (separated unto God), thereby having a powerful influence upon others; showing them the image of God in the midst of their daily existence.
I love this University that our niece is attending. As we drove up to the dorm, with three family cars loaded to the hilt with the makings of her home for the next nine months, we were greeted by a volunteer group of college students from a local church. I have never seen such organization or such calmness coming out of what is normally chaos on "move-in" day. Each family was greeted with smiles and offers to help carry the loads to each student's room, along with an invitation to join them on campus for ice cream later that night. It took all the stress, work, and tension out of the situation and allowed both parents and students to enjoy the process of getting to know one another.
Isn't that what this Scripture is telling us? Serving others, with their best interests in mind, not only establishes a sense of peace and fellowship, but sets you apart from the selfish concerns of the rest of the world. You show others what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and most importantly, you have the opportunity to influence others, and show them what He has done in your life.
So my prayer for my niece is that she will enjoy her college years, and have fun as she explores who she is. She is about to begin her race of faith, and knowing her heart, I am certain she will finish strong. I pray that she will reach her full potential in what Christ intends for her, and I feel quite sure that she will bear much fruit for His kingdom, as she influences others through her example. May we all do the same ...