Spiritual growth is measured organically not mechanically. That is to say, spiritual growth is measured by our relationships not just by our activities. Show me a man who reads his Bible every day, attends church, and prays, but cannot seem to live in peace with others, and I will show you a man who is not actually growing spiritually. He is not being transformed into Christ’s holiness.
The same is true of a church. Higher attendance and offerings (mechanical growth) are not nearly as indicative of growth as a church that strives for peace.
STRIVE for peace
The author tells us to “strive for peace.” This word means to pursue it like a persecutor would pursue his victim. Hunt it down. Abduct it.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18.
Is your life characterized by peace? Take a look at your relationships (family, church family, workplace, neighborhood), where does conflict exist? Why does it exist? Do you stir up trouble? Are you a complainer? Do you post nasty things on facebook or twitter? Do you gossip? Do you avoid people? Are you aggressive? Passive? Passive aggressive?
Do you strive for peace? Not just avoid trouble. But work at being a peacemaker?
Strive for PEACE
For the Jewish people peace is shalom. This is much more than the absence of conflict. Shalom is total life flourishing. When we strive for peace, we are doing much more than just separating two battling parties, or keeping our mouths shut when we don’t like something. Shalom is much more than neutrality (being Switzerland).
Shalom is why God made us! To thrive not just survive; to understand life and see the value of it. To feel at one with God and others- like in the Garden. That is what we pursue.
The surrounding verses place this pursuit in the context of God’s discipline. Why does God discipline us? To bring us to a place of shalom/peace. A peace that we also strive for. A peace with and for others. So in Hebrews 12:12-13 we are told to strengthen weak knees and make straight paths for others. In verse 15, we are told to make sure no one misses God’s grace.
When you fail to pursue peace (shalom and flourishing) for others, you fail to be holy, you fail to help others find strength, and you cause others to miss the grace of God.
But, when you are a peacemaker, you strengthen the weak, you display God’s grace, and you find the holiness that God has placed inside of you by the life of His son, Jesus.