Friday, September 28, 2007
Bringing Peace, Making Peace
Oppress anyone and they fight back. It's natural. How else do we keep ourselves safe in this hostile world? If we don't fight we get run over. It has happened to all of us.
So, how do you bring about peace between opposed factions? The classic actions of warfare just act as oppression or cutting the tree out. The roots of the opposition are still there and will come back to the surface after they've gathered some strength, on down the years.
Jesus is known as the Prince of Peace. It'd be hard to tell from Christian history. The U.S. government is now beating on people who have themselves been beaten on through thousands of years. There is no win in wars of ideology. How can Jesus do it?
He took our beating. With that out of the way the serious business of peace can be approached, starting with the internal warfare that I suspect is waged inside each person. We all learn ways to damp the fighting well enough to get along, but the price is sensitivity. There's always the danger of a sensitive person following the signs down among the roots and finally touching the wrong thing. I've had enough situations blow up in my face to know this really happens. So, we all stand around and talk about the weather.
Jesus already knows the weather. Stormy. Big waves. Visible wind. Overwhelming. "Hold my hand," He says. One part of me reaches out, another part holds back, and yet another part judges the whole process. Jesus illuminates the process but doesn't judge. He took the judgment. Everyone else in here is justified. They can look at each other and lose the daggers and bombs. Emotions, intellect, judgment, creativity, whatever whoever else is sharing the physical premises. We're all tired of war but know nothing else. And can we trust God to not do what the British did to the Arabs in 1918 and sell the whole lot of us down the river? His ways are not my ways. Does this mean I will forever hate the way we go? Always being dragged into situations I can't stand? This seems to be prevailing Christian opinion: if you don't like it, it must be right.
If I like the path it must be wrong. And yet logic is on the side of enjoying the walk, except that happy people tend to be suspected of other problems. Happiness acts as a beacon. "Let your light shine." Do I want to be shiny? As peace spreads within me and everyone starts learning to work together, what will happen? Maybe that's when I'll get sold.
How did Paul accede to becoming a slave of Jesus? He didn't act the slave's part. I doubt that this happened by following 40 days of forgotten purpose or some such imposed by well-meaning leaders. I suspect that his path started with the sudden bringing of peace to a ravaged soul: he wanted reality and worked at following the rules he'd been told would take him there. Then he encountered the Maker of Rules and suddenly was blinded and freed. Would I give up my sight to become free? That would make it hard to go my separate way, which is one reason I always think God's about to lower the boom on me.
But everyone's story is different. God reaches people as he is permitted. What would a life of peace be like? Peace is different from suppressed war. I only know by experience the latter and don't much trust anything else. I've been disappointed too many times. Jesus has his ways, however, of reaching gently all the way down to the farthest end of the most delicate and scared roots, and... protecting them.