These are some notes I’ve made in preparation for leading a discussion at CiB in January on building a culture of peace, an imperative for Christ followers…
As Israel invades Gaza in a continuation of it’s recent offensive, I’m just not interested in the same old arguments about who started what when. I am reminded of the old African proverb, “When the elephants quarrel, it’s the grass which suffers.” My prayers are with the folks in both Israel and Gaza who are dodging rockets and gunfire. My prayers are with the respective leaderships who cannot find enough love of peace in the jumble of all their many desires.
Tomorrow, I am starting a discussion at Church in Bethesda about creating a culture of peace, in our own lives, in the life of a faith community and in our world. We’ve come a long way from a serving, suffering Christ to find his followers organized into political caucuses, both left and right, fighting for dominance and rights and civil power.
Maybe that big question of who really ultimately fired first in the whole Israel/Gaza mess has a less deadly, but still crass and hurtful analogy in the “Great American Bumper-Fish War.” You know what I mean; on some cars a Jesus fish gobbles the Darwin fish, while on others a Darwin fish consumes the Jesus fish. I don’t know whose fish ate whose first, but I think that in such a contest that no one is winning any hearts or minds. I also don’t believe that faith and intellect are antithetical. Why do we draw lines and go spoiling for a fight?
Mostly, I don’t believe that Jesus calls us to a “one upping” of cultural or personal slights. How far from “Blessed are the peacemakers” do we wander when we assume a combative, either offensive or defensive, posture with the world? Did Jesus die for my civil rights? Did Jesus die for my cultural dominance? Did Jesus ask me to take up my cross and shove into people’s faces? Jesus took a small fish and blessed it and fed the hungry. Why would we use a small fish to divide and insult?
So, tomorrow we start talking about what scripture might be doing when it calls us to be “salt” and likens the kingdom reign of God in this world to “yeast.” I don’t wonder why we can’t “all just get along.” I wonder when we as Christ followers will claim our rightful place as servants, when we will not be found to be the ones standing up for ourselves, but standing to the side, quietly leavening a world that doesn’t need us to win, but to love.
Seriously, there’s only a “culture war,” as the pundits call it, if we show up to fight. When we choose peace, well then there’s just a chance to do some good. I’ve really already stared this conversation with several friends sitting in offices, coffee shops and living rooms. Seemed like something some of you might want to join in on.
With peace, Todd