When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.”
So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
[2 Kings 6: 21–23]
When Elisha led the army of Aram into the presence of the king of Israel, Israel’s king’s first thought was to kill his enemies. It seems logical: the enemy had fought and attacked him for a long time, now they were right in front of him and could be done away with. However, Elisha’s answer was to prepare a feast and eat with them. This may seem a radical idea, but it makes sense: we don’t make peace with our friends, we make peace with our enemies. Elisha’s suggestion was an act of making peace, not prolonging war – and as we see from the passage, it worked!
Over the last months I have reflected on those I have missed spending time with and who I look forward to meeting with once more when restrictions allow. However, I am challenged by this passage to consider those people I perhaps haven’t missed so much, those I am not really enthusiastic to see. This passage challenges me to “make peace” with them. That is not to say I am at war with anyone, but some relationships are easier than others.
As lockdown continues to ease, I encourage us all to look at those relationships that may have slipped through the cracks, those people that maybe we have been relieved to have had a break from. The isolation of lockdown has taught many of us how much we need each other – even those we don’t always like. When restrictions allow, of course meet with those you love and care for, but I also challenge you to “make peace” with those you find difficult. Consciously make time for them, and see what happens to your relationships.
God of community,
we thank you that we are now able to start spending time together –
time with those who we love dearly and have missed.
Give us the courage to also make time for those we don’t always agree with,
to make peace with those we find difficult.
May we see your love at work,
changing the challenging relationships
into ones which can bear much fruit.