Sunday, November 08, 2015

Ministry of reconciliation

Quarrels.  Divisions.  Discord and strife.

These are common to human experience.  Yet the New Testament tells Christians to avoid these, to get rid of them.  Easier said than done.

There are so many factions in the church, in the nation, even sometimes in our own families that we grow used to the idea.  We come to accept divisions.  We keep mental lists of who isn't speaking to whom, or who is on which side in various disagreements.  We try to pick our way through the rubble of so many broken relationships and broken trusts.

As Christians, we're called to be peacemakers and to take up the task of working towards reconciliation. It can be so difficult to know where to begin.  I can see two openings for first steps:

First, that we do not contribute to the divisions and make them worse.  Harsh words in public and harsh words in private both make the division harder to heal.  We make things worse when we rehearse and recite grievances. We make things worse when we accuse others of dishonesty, when we assume the worst motives, when we take it for granted that the other side is moved by hatred or dishonesty or bad character or lack of understanding. In my experience, most people have no idea why their opponents think what they do.  In most cases, they have no interest in why their opponents think what they do, which is a real obstacle to understanding.  And when someone makes the first steps towards trying to understand, they are almost always blinded still by what they have been told that the other side must think, which can be vastly different from what they do in fact think. This leads to the next opening:

Second, if we have no earthly idea what would motivate someone to take an action or hold a view, we could ask them.  We could try to understand.  It may be true enough that the other side does not understand us, but do we understand them?  Do we fault them for not understanding us, while we are open to the same charge ourselves of not understanding them?  Do we hold a double standard on that?  Are we waiting for them to make the first move, since after all we are sure we're right? Somehow each side is sure that that the other side is the side that lacks understanding - even though we do not understand their point of view.

There are situations in my own life that could benefit if we tried a little patience and understanding. I write this as someone who has much to learn, struggling to organize my thoughts and turn them into something more productive.  May God help.


Martin LaBar said...

Good advice.

Weekend Fisher said...

Thank you. :)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF