Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:14 (NIV)
In my “previous life” (career!) as an actuary, I often spoke to various groups of clients about the insurance coverage we provided. On one day, I was speaking in a conference room at one of Boston’s ritziest hotels overlooking the Boston Public Gardens. As was my custom, I got to the room early just to make certain all the technology was in good order. On this day, with everything running smoothly, I looked out the large, stately windows on to the Public Garden and saw the statue of Wendell Phillips. I was reminded how he, moved by the words of and eventual friendship with William Lloyd Garrison, effectively trumpeted the abolitionist cause to turn from the evil of slavery.
How I thank God for those abolitionists who called the United States to turn from evil and pursue peace. Many of them met with intense opposition and put their own lives at risk. Often, much to my embarrassment and dismay, it was church-going people who opposed them.
All too often, we are complacent in the face of horrific evils. We don’t want to risk our own comfort by telling others to turn from evil. Sometimes we don’t even want to turn from evil ourselves. At the very least, we like to try to remain ignorant about the evil being done and convince ourselves it is someone else’s calling to address. At the worst, we twist the Bible into supporting our self-serving position.
Yet, time and time again in the Scriptures, we are called to be the people who are the peacemakers and peace pursuers. If you are part of this “All for One” movement, it has to be part of your DNA. Thanks to Garrison, Douglas, Philipps, and the other abolitionists who joined them, eventually the United States saw slavery for the evil that it was.
Lord, let this reader and I be “All for One”, and may we have the courage to turn from evil and encourage others to do the same as we pursue peace.
This is the third in the “Pursue Peace” series of blog posts.