“Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it …that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14-15a, 15c from Hebrews 12:1-29 )
In the missing section that is absent from this excerpt, Paul exhorts his readers to be sure “that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.” But even with this piece absent, this verse is alludes to what in my opinion is the missing piece in Paul’s theological discourse. What we must do in response to Christ’s gift of grace. We must seek to be at peace with everyone, which is another way of talking about right relationships. We must be holy, from which comes the desire to be in right relationship and conduct our lives with justice, for ourselves and others. When we allow no bitterness in our lives and solve problems before they become trouble, we increase our chances for shalom. And if we have the grace of God, all other things will fall into place.
But if we lose the grace of God, or disregard the gift that Christ gives us and that God has ordained, then we have lost our way. No matter how wondrous or enduring God’s grace, we can still walk away from it.
I was reminded again on the evening of this writing that Paul would carefully design his letters for the purpose that he wanted to address. And scholars believe that this letter to the Hebrews was one of Paul’s best. So I have to believe there was a reason that only a slice of the “good news” was told. But don’t you, gentle reader, err by thinking that nothing is expected of us. Especially in this year where the focus is changing an enemy to a friend. And doubly so on this day after Thanksgiving when people had come together to celebrate family and friendships, and blessings received. Let the leftovers of that day remind us that right relationships and justice are for every day and for everyone. And that shalom can be glimpsed when come together in harmony and gratitude.
May you gentle reader pursue peace, and hold closely to you the grace of God and the holiness that it bestows. May trouble and bitterness be far from you, and may you be pure before our God. Selah! And shalom for your day.