Practice (#21)

Originally posted at joshuastairhime.com


I am very guilty of spending most of the month of December focused on the idea of peace, the processes and details of peace.  To an extent that is the point of this project, to wrestle with a concept that seems so simple, but can end up being so incredibly complex.

Of course learning about peace isn’t the same thing as practicing it.  That is somewhere that I really feel that I fall short of achieving in the month of December.  There is always a lot going on, and this year I have a few more things than usual that I am giving my attention too.

I had hoped to be more socially engaged with the world around me, fighting the good fight and trying to uplift the downtrodden.  I was going to spend time with people who were not like me, and I was going to learn their stories so they could be shared.  Intentions that have not yet become actions.  I feel like I end up in this place each year, never quite happy with the steps I have taken to turn thought into action.

I know a lot of people who turn thought into action, and I introduced you to one of them last year who is buying land to build a home for a Nicaraguan family.  I actually dropped off a bunch of scrap metal to her just a few weeks ago, because she is still working towards her goal, striving to finish strong so that her beloved second family can find peace in a stable living situation.

This year, I want to mention someone else who works to bring peace throughout the year.  Her name is April, and she is a funny, energetic and exciting person!  She nearly always has a smile on her face.  I can think of just a few exceptions that I have personally experienced, and those moments are the ones that I want to tell you about.

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April has been going to Nicaragua with our church for several years now, and during her first trip she decided that she wanted to sponsor a student as he went through school.  April picked a young man named Michael, and started sending a monthly check to NRN, the organization that administrates the sponsorship program.  When April came back the next year, she met Michael, whom they had written to several times, but hadn’t gotten much correspondence back from.  She was worried that Michael didn’t really like them, or wasn’t benefiting from the support she had been sending.  Regardless of the lack of feedback, April had been faithful to continue her support.

Check out the video below and you can see just how much April’s support meant to Michael.

Each check April writes is part of a cosmic re-balancing towards peace.  Those who have, giving freely to those who have not.  April sees the ledger swayed towards injustice for Michael, and puts her time and money into setting the balance aright.

April practices peace.

If you would also like to participate in bringing peace to Nicaragua, you can sponsor a student yourself at http://www.nicaresourcenet.org/

Everyone is Everything

This last year has been one heck of a ride for everyone. I won’t get into exactly why because I don’t think I need too. On top of the obvious stuff, we all had our individual wins and losses as well. I’ve learned a lot. I hope you have too.

I spent a good portion of the year in a constant state of disbelief. Some of it was for the political climate. Some of it was for person reasons. I’m beating around the bush. I going to talk about the election for a minute, so stop reading now if you’re not into it. I’ve got a larger point, but I need to work through some of this for context.

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump because I don’t like the man’s character. He brought out a side of this country that I’m not proud of, but now that he’s been elected I’m going to do my best to learn as much as I can about the people who voted for him. I’m probably not going to agree with them/you, but understanding is the only way I know to fend off bitterness and resentment.

I never thought this was going to be the outcome of the election. From the moment Trump began his campaign I wrote him off. In every primary I wrote him off. Even in the general election, I wrote him off. To me he seemed like such an extreme version of the social issues I stand firmly against. I didn’t think there was any way he would get the support he did. I was wrong. I’ve been wrong a lot this year. And in years.

I think this has been good for America. While I don’t respect or agree with Donald Trump on many issues, I think he is what we needed this year. Maybe not as president, but he brought to light issues I and many others thought were dealt with. I thought outright racism had been mostly eliminated. I was wrong. I thought needing consent regarding sexual acts was universally accepted. I was wrong. I thought America was pretty great and getting better. I guess I was wrong. Even if you like his ideas and voted for him, can we at least agree about the racism and misogyny? Trump’s campaign brought all these things out into the open for all of us to see. That is something we needed.

Now to the bigger point.

We spend a lot of energy and money trying to make thing appear ok. We buy things we can’t afford to make it look like we’re doing better financially than we actually are. When was the last time you asked someone how they were and their reply was anything other that “fine” or “very well” or some variation of that? We’re hiding our pain, anxiety, our sins. This isn’t healthy and it kills our hope for peace.

We are whole people. I have a mantra I like to tell myself when I start feeling too righteous. Everyone is Everything. Everyone has things that most of us would call bad. It’s ridiculous when you think about the way we try to hide the “bad” things about ourselves because we want everyone to think we’re good. We’re all just hiding from each other. I think I’m the only one, and you think you’re the only one. It’s really funny in the saddest way, when we zoom out.

We’ve done things we’re not proud of. We have thoughts that make us uneasy. Some of us are grieving. Some of us are angry. Most of us are walking around trying very hard to make our lives look like everything is fine.

During Christmas every year there seems to be an undertone of guilt and pressure. In line at the store I see it. Zoned out drivers trying not to make eye contact with the homeless guy asking for help. The unexpected gift that should be reciprocated. Gifts of unequal value. Many wish they could do more, but they make every penny stretch to get something for everyone on their list. And everyone goes to Christmas and acts fine. No stress on the outside. Dreading the credit card bills the new year will bring.

When we spent our energy on trying to keep up appearances, it should come as no surprise that peace has vacated the scene. By trying to push down and ignore or hide the “bad” stuff we are not doing ourselves any favors. We’re rejecting part of ourselves. There are no “good” people. Everyone is everything. The proportions are different from person to person, but I don’t think there is a pure soul on the planet. That gives me hope for me. And for you. And for Donald Trump.

We should embrace those parts of ourselves that we’ve labeled as bad. The more hidden they are, the more power they have over us. Talk about them. Explore them. When you catch your kid watching porn don’t go off the handle. Explore that impulse. Condemning them and trying to stop it only ensures they’re going to keep doing it, except now you don’t get to be part of the conversation. Take that and apply it liberally to all situations. Of course, there should be boundaries with who and where these things take place. The point is, hiding creates darkness. Showing our cards floods light all over our darkest corners.

This is a theme I’ve tried to explore in the Christmas story. It is in fact one of the most compelling themes in the whole bible. All the dirt got left in. Thousands of contradictions. This book is riddled with humanity. Beautiful, flawed humanity. The Christmas story is no different. The sinless son of God was born to what to natural eyes looked like either an adulteress or a couple of unwed fornicators. He was born in poverty. Some new age astronomers and shepherds (basically the scum of society) came to worship him. If this had happened today, Mary and Joseph would had to have been Kardashians to make the cut.

Despite the circumstances, we think of Christmas as a time of peace on earth. Peace can only truly come when we’re honest. We are everything. Everyone is everything. Let’s celebrate the good, deal with the bad, and mourn the sad. Let’s be honest. Let’s do it together. Let’s all find people we trust who we can be our whole selves with. Let’s make 2017 the year we air our dirty laundry and get it dealt with properly. Of all the things I’ve written this month, that sentence is the best first step to peace I can think of. I’ll say it again. Let’s make 2017 the year we air our dirty laundry and get it dealt with properly. That’s it. We’ve got work to do. Let’s get to it.

-Adam

Reminder From a Lake

I’ve said before that I think the default state of creation is peace. I’ve also said I think human beings might be unique in our ability to not see that. Today I want to explore that idea some more.

A couple years ago my family took out first vacation together. We’d been on other vacations with other people or as just my wife and I, but that year we took the kids and it was just us. We went to Warren Dunes state park on Lake Michigan and camped for a few days. We didn’t plan anything except being on the beach and walking in the park.

We got there on a Sunday afternoon so all the weekend crowd had pretty much cleared out. The weather was chilly for early June so the summer weekday crowds weren’t really very big either. We had our run of the whole place for the most part. There was rain in the forecast so I was nervous. I was the only one in the family who had ever been tent camping before, and this was the only chance all summer we were going to get. I had used almost all of my vacation days for this trip. I was excited but there was an uneasy feeling in my belly. I wanted this to be perfect.

The first day we arrived and got set up. There wasn’t a great place to hang a tarp over the picnic table and we forgot a couple things, but we were here. We headed to the beach. The campground is in the woods and there is a paved road to the lake. My kids have never seen any body of water bigger than a river or medium sized lake. When we pulled out of the woods and around a bend the sky is all we could see. The road leading to the lake comes out on top of a dune and the lake and sky split the scenery and the view is breathtaking. Everyone I. The car gasped and I knew we made the right choice in our destination.

After the initial excitement, the kids were swimming, my wife was relaxing and I was walking along the edge of the water. We were there until the beach closed at about 9:30. We went back to camp, had some food and fell right to sleep. Another thing I was worried about. We love our mattresses. I didn’t know how well the hard ground would go over. Enough blankets was one thing we forgot. It worked out though. My wife is hot blooded and it was cold at night. It was a rare opportunity for us to sleep like a movie couple, clung to each other.

The rest of our time there was the most relaxed I think I have been since our first daughter was born. There were no plans, nowhere to be, nothing to do. We swam when we were hot. We hiked when we were cold. We ate when we were hungry, and we slept when we were tired. There was not a care in the world. I hadn’t known peace like that since I was a kid.

When we got home the peace lasted weeks. The kids behaved, things didn’t get to me like they had. My wife’s anxiety was non-existent. For weeks.

Looking back, I put a lot of effort into planning for that trip. I planned for the perfect time of year. I looked for a place to stay that wasn’t too touristy or right on a highway. I planned all the meals, and bought all the gear. I even looked at maps and planned which trails we would hike on which day. I tried to make it perfect. As soon as we drove over that bluff and saw the lake I abandoned my plan. The sounds of the water and the trees and the smell of camp smoke and not wearing shoes for 5 days straight really melted off the stress. It was a real vacation.

That trip was the epitome of rest and peace. It reminded me that the default state of nature is peace. It was a turning point in my adult life. My wife and I discovered something on that trip. We can reconnect to that peace. And it is in fact less rather than more that makes it possible.

-Adam

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Let Me Get What I Want

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a narcissist. I don’t believe anyone does anything completely selflessly, but the amount of energy it takes me to get into a frame of mind that isn’t completely selfish is astonishing to me sometimes. I might be going out on a limb here, but I’m willing to wager that I’m not the only person who thinks if I could just get thing to go my way, I would have peace.

The thing that sets off my anger the most is being interrupted when I’m trying to do something. Be it kids, the phone ringing, my dog needing to go out, or the eggs burning while I’m trying to get the next batch of pancakes on the griddle. My first thought in those kind of situations is, “Why is this happening to me?” I’m sure everyone has a thing that makes them ask that question. I’ve come to really hate that question. It never leads to an answer that helps. In fact, it’s an enemy of peace.

Asking “Why is this happening to me?” like there is some sort of cosmic reason is dangerous. Behind that question are many other questions and assumptions that can easily take me places where peace is not welcome.

What have I done wrong to deserve this?

At the core of my being, I must deserve this.

Am I worthy of love?

Am I worthy of anything good?

These might seem a little over the top, but Im sure I’m not the only person asking these questions to themselves and God. “Why is this happening to me?” is the first event in a series that could destroy peace in anyone’s life.

I should say here that it is important to assess situations and do self reflection to see how our actions affect our lives, but I don’t think in the moment is the right time to be asking why.

When I take a beat and acknowledge what ever unfun thing is happening, then figure out how to react, things seem to go much better for me. The end result might not be what I want or what feels the best, but i make it through in one piece. Once I’ve come through, then I can figure out what I could do differently to avoid it in the future.

Sometimes peace is found over time. We all go through times when peace seems to be the farthest thing from reality. In a moment we can hope for peace only to find anxiety or another issue that seems to be blocking us from it. When we learn to move through those times and look back to get some perspective on the situation we can get to a place of peace faster and more readily in other similar situations.

The original point I was trying to make is that always getting things to go my way won’t bring me piece. When I get everything I want, it inevitably means someone else has given up their desire. I’m pretty sure I’m not a narcissist most days, but I do have desires and I would like to see some of them come to pass. I have learned that they aren’t the source of my peace though. More about that tomorrow.

-Adam

Weary (#20)

Originally posted at joshuastairhime.com


I’m still processing the end result of the Crush-Crushed series, so tonight we will take a break from that while I continue to learn what exactly should be taken away from those verses.  I’ve often started these posts before, but they never seem to lead anywhere, so I wanted to at least verbalize the process.  Perhaps someone else has some perspective for me, I would welcome it.


“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble at heart.”  Matthew 11:29

I am pretty tired of writing about peace.  It is a burden, and it does take so much time to come up with something.  I think I am closer this year to giving up than I have ever been, as so many things are going on that it is hard for me to focus on this one aspect of life.

Is it just one aspect though?

If I have peace, will it not overflow into all the other areas of my life?

If I do not have peace, it certainly effects all of the other things I am trying to do.

The Bible describes those who are unrepentant as enemies of God.  We are not at peace with God.

However the Bible immediately follows that statement with this one…”but while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

While we were yet His enemy, Christ paid with His life to draw us back into a relationship with the Trinity.

So even though I am not at peace in this moment, the way is open for me to find it.  The door has been forever kicked open, the veil has been torn.

The Calendar

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in the Lutheran church. One thing I used to criticize and have now come to cherish is the Church calendar. The Lutherans follow it, as well as Catholics, Methodists and many other, more traditional denominations. When I left the Lutherans for Evangelicalism, I left the calendar behind as well. Pre-written prayers, liturgy and scripture chosen by someone in an office far away from my congregation seemed pointless to me. How could God work through the leaders of the church if they aren’t even free to pray from the heart or teach from scripture that God led them to? I had those kinds of thoughts about all of it.

I have a hard time looking back and regretting anything I did or thought over my life. All those things have led me to the place I am, which is a far better place. When I started to rethink my views on the church calendar I was playing on a worship band in a Methodist church and the pastor told me he was using liturgy everyday in his morning routine. I thought he was crazy. I did a little research and opened up to the idea.

If you aren’t familiar with the calendar, it starts with Advent. The four weeks leading up to Christmas. Then comes Epiphany, Lent Easter, and then normal time. It lays out the gospel in seasons throughout the year. Everyday there is are readings assigned from the Bible and different traditions celebrate different saints or people of notoriety throughout the year as well.

My love of the calendar, grew once I started using it to lead worship and teach at the church we started in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At first I treated it like anyone would treat a devotional. Everyday I read the scriptures and read about whatever or whoever the specific day was recognizing.

At some point it dawned on me that this was more than a devotional. This goes back farther than any devotional I’d ever heard of. It’s hundreds of years old. Not only that, it’s not just a years worth of lessons put together by some person. It is the course the Church follows worldwide, throughout the years. This is a tremendous tool of unity. I’m always looking for good metaphors as well. The calendar even serves well in his aspect. While I don’t keep up on a regular basis these days, it is grounding to know what season I’m in and that I’m not alone. The calendar has been my tether to the church in my absence from it.

The church calendar is a beautiful thing to me. The death of Jesus shows us what our false self(religious and political systems, the law, the human part of us) is capable of. It will kill an innocent man, God Himself, to protect itself. The veil is torn and God is nowhere to be found. We contemplate that and call it Lent. Then comes the resurrection. He shows us there is more to life than we knew. In his death and resurrection we have hope for more In this life and the next. We celebrate this and call it Easter. Jesus promised help before He ascended. He sent the Holy Spirit which basically gave us all a glimpse at our true selves. There’s a reason the church exploded after this. People knew who they were and how they were to live from the core of their being. We call this moment Pentecost. Of course preceding all this is Advent, the time when we anticipate the coming of Christ. The church calendar is what keeps me holding onto Christianity even after all I’ve been through in my faith. If ever there was a guide on the path to peace, the calendar has been it for me.

Advent (Hope and anticipation for a savior)

Epiphany (Knowledge of that savior’s arrival), Lent (My savior is dead as a result of my actions. Disappointment. Contemplation of my motives and expectations)

Easter (My salvation has come in the most unexpected way.)

Pentecost (I become aware of who I am in Christ, my true self. Abundant life is the result)

The calendar keeps us looking ahead. We know the hope we have in it, and we have a path to peace. We can also see the seasons and recognize their cyclical nature. That helps us endure suffering. We know there is an end to it.

May you find peace this Advent as we anticipate the coming of Christ. May you embrace the hope He brings as the revelation of what He has come to do is revealed in Epiphany. May it bring you peace and may you spread that peace through the unconditional love that has been shown to us and accepted by us.

-Adam

Crushed (#19)

Originally posted at joshuastairhime.com


I asked you to meditate on Romans 16:20 (a) last night, which says “The God of peace will crush Satan under his feet.”

It turns out in my sleepless stupor, I made a typo.  The Bible says that “The God of peace will crush Satan under YOUR feet.”

I think I conflated two verses actually, bringing together the verse in Genesis that talks about the Man bruising the Serpents head, while the Serpent strikes at his heel.  That verse in Genesis 3 even has a fancy name!  The “protoevangelium” is the first verse to foreshadow the coming of Christ.  Even in the very beginning, God has a plan for restoration of his people.

So what does it mean practically when we read these two verses?

Well…Paul addresses the brotherhood of Christ at the top of the paragraph, so we know that Satan will be crushed, by the God of peace (Jesus), under the feet of His people.   In some sense, God has already done this through the work of the cross.  In another sense, Satan is still making an impact on the world today, and there is plenty of his work to crush.

So I think this verse is a call to arms!  A call for us to be ready to march when God asks, so that we may crush the true enemy under our feet.   We march, Satan is crushed.   It all seems so simple.

Simple, that is, until you try to relate it to the world we are living in today.  What does it mean to march together as Christians?  What would that even look like?  Should followers of Christ take up arms to free people from the bondage Satan has placed them in?   If we focus on a global conflict such as Syria, is Jesus asking the Church to eliminate the “bad guys” on Jesus behalf?  Are we to stand up against the works of Satan in this world, using everything we have at our disposal, including violence?

It seems like we are back to where we started.

Lets look at two more passages.

Are you familiar with the armor of God described in Ephesians?  Read the passage if not.  Note that it speaks specifically about our enemy not being an enemy of flesh and blood, but one of powers, principalities, and rulers.  Also take a closer look at verse 15;  “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”  God tells us to crush Satans head, while wearing shoes of peace.  So…The God of Peace, will crush Satans head, under our shoes of peace.

Last passage.

This section  of Romans tells us that we are more than conquerors as we fight against powers and principalities, but it also shares the example of Christ with us again.  Christ, who gave himself up for us all, asks us to believe that no matter what happens, we can not be separated from his love.

Read the list again…”35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ” – “38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I think we are being asked to march, peacefully, no matter the cost to ourselves, because absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Where will we march?


There is more here…but I’m struggling to condense it into a coherent thought.  Perhaps more tomorrow.  

Self

Peace often comes through pain. Pain or struggle seems almost necessary to find peace, and has been a theme running though many of the posts since the start of this project. I’d like to offer my thoughts today on why that is.

In Romans 7 Paul makes a curious statement about doing things he doesn’t want to do and not doing things he wants to do. At one point he says it’s not him sinning but it is the sin that dwells within him. That’s strange isn’t it? We look at ourselves in the mirror and think of the reflection as “me”. We look at our friends and recognize them by their face or voice if they call us on the phone. When we think of our parents, we can see their face in our minds. So what is Paul talking about? How could his “flesh” not be him?

There is a dichotomy in our being. It’s a split that leaves a lot of people confused and one that cripples many people in guilt and leads others to fundamentalism. I think Paul is pointing this out to us through his letter. Where I have to disagree with Paul is when he says that his flesh is not him. Let’s get into this.

The split is between our true and false selves. The Christian tradition refers to these as flesh and spirit. Some call them ego and soul. I like false and true self, so those are the terms I’ll be using.

Let’s start with the false self or the ego. The flesh. This is our personality. I am Adam. My false self is Adam. I play music. I write for 25 days of peace. I am a father, a husband, a Christian. An American. That’s my false self. It’s not false in a way that it doesn’t matter or it’s bad. It just is what it is and it has a role and place in the whole of who I am (what I think Paul is actually doing is trying to get us to identify more with our true selves, which I’ll get to). You have a false self too, and it is the origin of the pain the search for peace seems to bring about. More on the false self later.

The true self is your spirit. It’s never changing. When we are hurt emotionally our true self is where we find the strength to move through it. It is a never ending source of peace and joy. I made an offhand comment in an earlier post that peace is the default mode of every person. This is why. I don’t believe our true selves are individual. When the scripture talk about the Holy Spirit coming on a person, what I think is really happening is they have been made aware of their true self. We are not separate from God in this realm of our being. “Nothing can separate us from the love of the father.” Sound familiar? True self. This is where our peace comes from.

I could write 50 pages on each self so let’s get into the roles of each.

The false self is like a car. Or an avatar if you are a gamer. It has limitations and it has no idea what it is doing by itself. Have you ever been in a situation where you have to make a choice and you just can’t? Chances are it’s your false self trying to decide. The false self is a hedonist, and it wants to run the show. Self driving cars ruin the analogy, but you get the idea. The catch is, without our false self we couldn’t function in society. Our false self is where we make judgements about things. It’s how we relate to each other. Our false self is what nails that interview for the dream job. Like I said, it’s not necessarily bad, it just shouldn’t be where we live from. The false self is just the car, not the driver (though many people let it drive). When Jesus said you must lose your life to gain it, he was talking about losing the false self.

The true self is a hard thing to describe in a tangible way. In the analogy is it’s the driver. We talk about seeing with the eyes of Christ or living a Christ centered life. Through the true self is the way we do that. This is how we can love even the worst people. This is why even the alcoholic, the racist, the Muslim, and the pedophile are all worthy of love and dignity. That’s your false self disagreeing with me right now. Our true self knows we are unable to disconnect ourselves from those people. Our true selves know there are no “us” and “them”. Our true self knows God isn’t far away. He’s right here. Our true selves know what we need at the deepest levels of our being. The true self is the deepest level. The eternal level.

I think it’s pretty obvious when we meet someone who’s in touch with their true self. There’s an ease about them, a peace. They are those people that seem to know where to be and what to do. They’re present. They’re light.

I think of Biff from Back to the Future as a good example of someone living completely from their false self. Or people obsessed with image and power.

The hardest lesson to learn once you get in touch with your true self is to figure out how to “steer” the false self (mind and body) with the true self (spirit). In this life we are both. We can’t separate them and be whole. They are both us, but if the two are not in their proper roles our lives become disoriented. Chaotic even. We can have what seems to be peace when our false self is in control, but as soon as the dopamine dries up, we’re looking for the next thing to get that fix. On the other hand if we live only from our true selves we are described as being too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. An integrated person has found the balance.

The churches I’ve been in like to use the analogy of a God shaped hole in our hearts that we try to fill with sex, drugs, and rock an roll. I’d like to offer an analogy instead, right from the Gospel. The Jewish temple. The outer courts and the holy of holies. True salvation comes to us when we allow the veil to be torn. The veil was torn in the temple to reveal god had left the premises. In fact, I don’t believe he was ever there. The whole temple setup is an analogy to who we are and how we ought to live. Everything that happened in the outer courts was in service of the holy of holies. When power and greed take over the outer courts we see Jesus come and turn over the tables. This is Jesus’ call to die to ourselves. His death on the cross shows us how far the false self will go to protect itself, to hold control of the systems its built. His death tears the veil between our true and false self. His death is the addict’s rock bottom. It’s Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s Miracle on 34th Street. It’s “blessed are the poor in spirit”. It’s salvation. It’s true and lasting peace.

May you learn to live from your true self, through your false self, and always have hope that in doing so others can wake up and do the same.

-Adam

Somtimes I offend People

Sometimes I offend people. I hate that I do it. Especially on this holiday season, where I want so badly to promote peace and love, I hate that my thoughts on peace are very likely to make people angry with me. (Or make them think that I’m angry at them).

But I can’t help it. I am so passionate for peace- specifically, peace between nations. For most of my life I scoffed at the idea of a world without war. I thought, like most people do, that war was inevitable, even necessary. But then things changed. I no longer saw it as necessary, and then it was only a matter of time before I stopped seeing it as inevitable too.

I think that we can end wars. I think all men have a choice whether to fight their fellow man or not. I think that they can choose to not. And I think the world would be a better place for it. I think we can have peace.

But it’s okay if you don’t agree with me. I think I nothing less of you for it. I know that it’s a crazy idea. Almost all of the people that I love most in this world disagree with me. The nice thing about being the person with crazy opinions is that it’s harder to think that the people that disagree with you are monsters.

I’ve learned a lot by being the weird-o with crazy ideas. I’ve learned how to disagree with someone without hating them.

So I ask you: Let’s have peace. Let’s show each other kindness even though we disagree. I don’t want to be the lunatic raving against the wars of nations while making enemies of all that hear me. I am going to say things that may shock and offend you, things that you will know -deep down in your bones- are wrong. But it’s only because I feel deep down in MY bones that you are the one that’s wrong.

You are most likely very similar to me. If we can’t have peace -even though we disagree-when we come from the same nation, speak the same language, maybe even pray to the same God.. how can the nations have peace? I believe that men need not kill each other because of the differences of their governments. And that MUST start with not hating each other because of the differences of their opinions.

 

Crush (#18)

Originally posted at joshuastairhime.com


I, and others who have been a part of this project in the past have struggled with our own role in trying to truly become peacemakers.  I have started so many posts about resolving international conflicts, advocating for a little force now to stop a disaster later, but I have never been able to finish those posts.  I have spent tens of hours across the three years I’ve done this trying to reach a conclusion I can believe in, but each time I have started, I have failed, and badly.  Why does this concept confuse and trouble me so much?

A dear friend sent me some Bible verses a few days ago, and I read over them several times, hoping to find some strand of truth to grab onto to anchor myself in my internal debate.  Try as I might, I wasn’t connecting with those verses in a meaningful way.  Or at least not in a way that felt complete and fully developed.  There was still a mental connection missing for me.  How could a God of peace allow such terrible things like what is going on in Syria or the South Sudan to continue?  How would a peaceful God resolve an international conflict?  Where do you draw the line of peace?

I sat down tonight, dreading the commencement of my now daily task, and once again couldn’t get started.  I distracted myself enough to run out of internet (again) and then curled up under the covers of my bed.  I drug my phone up and scrolled to the section of scripture my friend had sent days before, deciding it wouldn’t hurt to look again into the Bible for wisdom.

Romans 16:20 (a) The God of peace will crush Satan under his feet.

The God of peace will crush Satan under his feet?  What kind of paradox is this?  How can a peaceful God crush anything and still be considered peaceful?

After processing for a few more minutes I finally realized that I’ve forgotten who the enemy is.

The battles I keep wanting to fight are battles against flesh and blood, as if there truly are human beings who we could eliminate to set the world back into proper order.

The enemy isn’t a person, or a group of people, who can be stopped by killing them.  People who do ill towards others are only a symptom of a broader problem.

“The God of peace will crush Satan under his feet.”

Meditate on that with me tonight.  Tomorrow we will unpack it.