I don’t think there’s any question that if you and I want to live long well, we need to help create peace in the world around us. For forty years, God tried to teach the children of Israel what they needed to live long and well in the land. That’s what we’re looking at today. Just three things I want to share with you about creating peace.
First, if you’re going to live in peace you must learn to love your neighbor, your brother and even strangers and those you don’t understand. In Leviticus 19:17-18, God told Moses to relay an important message to the Israelites saying, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart… but rather you must learn to love you neighbor as you love yourself.” If we’re going to live well together and we’re going to live long together, we’ve got to learn how to love our family, our brothers and sisters and we must then learn to love our neighbors. It continues in the thirty third verse saying, you must even learn how to love the stranger those who sojourn in your land as foreigners because you were a foreigner in the land of Egypt.
Second, if we’re going to love our neighbor as we love ourselves then I believe we have to live in a spirit of understanding. We must make a commitment to truly understand one another before we pass judgment. When Jesus was asked about the most important commandment, Jesus said; you shall love the Lord your God with your heart soul mind and strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus explains that everything else is built upon these two commandments. This applies even when we are different; even though there are things that separate us. That which unites us is much greater than anything that tears us apart. If we want a world of peace it must begin with a sense of understanding for others. What if you and I made a commitment to live in a spirit of understanding one another?
Finally, if we seek to understand, then we should be able to treat others with a sense of respect, civility and a sense of courtesy. So often I find myself concerned about how, as a society, we are losing our manners. It’s not just anything new, it’s been going on for awhile and I fear we are losing our sense of civility for one another! I believe it is so important to engage, debate and disagree on important issues, but I also believe we can do this with a sense of dignity. It is my prayer that we would make a commitment as disciples of Jesus Christ to be the people who seek to truly understand one another and treat others the way we wish to be treated. I hope that we can truly live out the rule that Jesus gave us as the greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself, for if we do that we can create peace in our world.