” . . . to this peace . . . “

“The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body.  And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:15)

Last week on my way to the classroom to lead one of our Wednesday evening Bible studies I noticed a knot of folks gathered around a hallway window.  They were intently watching something outside moving around in the grass.  As I approached, the conversation went something like this:

    Them:    “Oh look, it’s a gerbil or guinea pig.” (Happily curious and interested)

    Me:         “No, it’s a rat.

    Them:     “Oh . . .” (Disgusted, alarmed, and put off)

    Me:        “But don’t worry.  It’s not a sewer rat.  It’s someone’s pet rat that got free and is on a walk-about.”

    Them:    “Oh . . .  It better watch out for the cats around the church!” (Happily curious and concerned)

It’s rather amazing how quickly our views can change.  Cecil the church rat (had to give him a name) went from being an object of curiosity and fun, to an object of scorn, and then to an object of concern in just a few moments.  The group’s preconceived ideas about certain animals took them on a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions in the time it took for just a few sentences to be passed between us.

I am deeply concerned these days as I listen to the news in our country and hear about the hurtful ways that people are being treated, and some of the disastrous responses to those situations.  Outrage and violence seem to be brewing in so many communities.  I do my best to respectfully listen to all sides and realize I frequently hear new thoughts and perspectives.  I’m convinced that outrage in many circumstances is the appropriate response.  By that, I mean not simply outrage that someone might have been hurt, but also outrage that conditions have been allowed to exist and even manipulated to exist in such a way that some live with future expectations of hope and some live with future expectations of hopelessness and despair.  Some live to see well-defined paths to a bright future, and some live seeing nothing but more future hopelessness and hurt.  

In all of this we seek the peace of Christ to guide our decisions.  However, I believe the peace of Christ we need is not a peace that suppresses the cries of injustice, discrimination, and hurt, but rather, a peace that even embraces outrage.  We need the peace of Christ to help us listen without reacting from our preconceived opinions.  We need the peace of Christ to help us avoid being manipulated by some to react in fear, anger, and hate as we hear the outrage expressed by others.  We need the peace of Christ to help us listen to highly emotional others as they express hurt we might have been unaware of, chosen to ignore, or helped create either actively or passively.

We need now more than ever the peace of Christ to help us listen and make decisions that will build lasting peace with justice and hope.  I pray that the peace of Christ will help me carefully and respectfully listen, so I can make decisions that will lead to unity and peace among others.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,

Gary

Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.

My other book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24

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~ by revgenelson on August 12, 2015.

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