Building One Another

E. Stanley Ott

PEACE Vol 12 No 17

June 25, 2013

Dear Friend,

“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18*

I have been musing recently over a funeral I conducted for someone years ago. I don’t recall who it was or whether it was a man or a woman. What I do remember is standing in the front of a tiny chapel with four or five family members in the front pew on one side and four or five more sitting in the front pew of the other side. 

It seemed normal to me – people wanting to sit near the front while I talked about their loved one and spoke about the resurrection of Jesus and the real hope of resurrection offered to anyone who embraces and follows Jesus by faith. 

It was only after the service as people were milling around and getting ready to leave that one of the family members pulled me aside and said, “You may have noticed we sat on two sides of the chapel. There has been a bitter split in our family for many years and while they were willing to attend the memorial service for a family member they are not willing to associate with each other nor speak to each other!” 

How very sad. The apostle Paul was very clear when he instructed us to be at peace, “so far as it depends on you.” Indeed family members at times say or do things that are incredibly hurtful. There is no denying the depth of the pain and rupture of relationship that may engender. 

At the same time, our Lord, who died on behalf of we who constantly behave in ways that hurt people and offend God, leaves us no wiggle room. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 

So reconciliation may not be possible – yet forgiveness on your part is possible – and in so far as it is possible, do be at peace with all people. 

With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV