Community

We are all tempted to build community around the people we like and agree with. After all how do we build community while in conflict?

Christ took the opposite approach and invited into his inner circle: tax collectors, harlots, sinners, rich and poor, jews and, God forbid, Samaritans. The community he created wasn’t governed by religious rules or social conformity, but by forgiving and comforting. It was unafraid and loving.
Every community must allow for differences, tolerate uncertainties, and respect the dignity of the human being. Each member must be given the opportunity to be independent, change, and grow. Envision a community that lives together in its diversity. Rather than living apart in bunkers of faith and rules, imagine a community that is boundless in its welcome to others.
Reconciliation doesn’t mean cutting off the branches of disagreement, and it also doesn’t mean our disagreements will end. It means we will remain in community in spite of our differences. We treat each other with mutual respect and seek out common purpose. Standing in love with those with whom we disagree is not a popular concept these days. It seems we live in a time of escalating conflicts, deep cynicism, and increasing isolation. ( I admit to an occasional thought of escaping to a mountain or a beach with no TV or news.) Standing with those with whom we disagree requires courage, but in so doing we grow together in love. We set an example of being open, forgiving, and being faithful. In the end, we will not be measured by how right we are, but by how loving we are.
How do you wish to be measured?
.

Living In Peace

I want to begin today with a belief of mine — Whatever our religious or spiritual convictions we are never outside the scope of God’s grace.

In my postings, I reference Jesus as an example because he is what I know, and as Luis would say he is where the light shines brightest for me. I am confident that if I spent as much time with another or faith or religion, I would be able to quote references to examples of other faiths. What is important to me, and I think to God, is we not separate from one another or classify others with different beliefs as winners or losers. Surely Christ didn’t do so, but there I go referencing my faith.

What do we do with the anger and hurt we feel when we are in conflict with our neighbor? When someone challenges our opinions especially about something we believe in strongly, we feel attacked, challenged, and the after effects of this attack can be long-standing and bitter. Do we have to live in emotional turmoil as the price of disagreement?
When Christ came into the world it was in turmoil. Romans hated Jews, people expected a Messiah to come wielding a mighty sword. But when Jesus arrived he didn’t preach war but mercy, forgiveness, and understanding. Rather than offering political overthrow he said “My peace I give to you not as the world gives, but as God gives.”
He was a healer. He went to the core of what was causing people to refuse to reconcile — fear. As a physician he recognized that if reconciliation was to occur, if peace is to be found, that we need to face our fears. We are afraid we are going to lose, that we are not in control, that we aren’t right, and because of those fears we become defensive and set up barriers to reconciliation.
Times change, but people do not. Consider the message of old and apply it to today. Turn your fears over to God and he will comfort with “Do not be afraid.” He says forgive, and forgive, and forgive again, because if we do not we will no longer be in a relationship with our neighbors and for healing to occur we must stay together. Practice compassion — it is the power given us by God to bring peace into even the most violent of conflict. Compassion heals our fears.
God Bless and enjoy the weekend! W.

Who Is Right?

One obstacle to reconciliation is our need to be right. We think we are right because we have the right facts, information, and interpretation. The problem is that there are people who have the same information and facts and yet think the opposite way, and are just as sure they are “right.”

We both are searching for the “truth,” so when we believe we have found it, we engage in a tug-of-war with those who claim they own the “truth.” Problem is — “truth” is not owned by anyone but God.
In our faith communities, we all claim to own the “truth”, yet since post the time of Christ ownership of the truth was and is a constant source of conflict — a conflict that continues on to this very day. Even in Jesus’s days the Pharisees had rules for everything. People who conformed to those truths were considered holy, those who did not were impure. Yet, Jesus broke rule after rule shifting the ground of truth from being right to loving one’s neighbor. Other great religious leaders over time have shifted the discussion from being right to loving.
In our search for truth — nothing wrong with that in fact it is one of our callings — we must not forget we have a counselor and comforter in God. He calls us all to search for the truth together, no matter how much we disagree and how irreconcilable our differences may be. Love is the common theme of this reconciliation.
Today, each of us stand at the moment of decision — do we seek the truth with the old strategy of dealing with disagreement, including gridlock, conflict and separation? Or do we choose love at the foundation of our truth search, favoring reconciliation over being right. We search together, even in the midst of deep difference, and will be comforted and counseled by God.

Disagreement

Introduction

 
I commend to you all the comment from Tom Milne found at www.thehubbellpew.com on Reconciliation. In fact, I commend to you all the comments that have come in.
Today’s Post
 
Disagreement is a given in each of our lives. Its a natural consequence of our ability to think for ourselves, to form opinions, to make commitments, and to believe in something. As varied as are disagreements are our answers and reactions to disagreement. We can be mildly annoyed or very angry. We can stand our ground or withdraw. We can try to compromise or we walk out of the room. Our response to disagreement to a large extent depends on our investment in the issue. If we are not invested we are more likely not to get upset, but if we are talking about a deeply held opinion or belief our reaction more than likely will be powerful and forceful.
So if disagreement is a given, and if the consequences of disagreement can be severe, how do we people of Faith, cope with conflict — no matter whether it is in the church, in politics, in the home or workplace?
Within our respective faiths lies the answer. We reinforce what brings us together in the first place. To coin a football term it means getting “back to the basics.” Where did we stand together before we began to pull apart? Whether it be in the church, politics, home, or work ask, “What can hold us together?”