Monday, December 10, 2007

peace that passes all understanding...

I eat deer meat, but I could never shoot a deer. My family does that for me, and I simply reap the spoils. In fact, I could never hold a gun. I'm not sure how I developed my aversion. My grandfather and stepfather have always had gun safes, and for years I've watched the process of them cleaning their guns in preparation for hunting season. I don't mind fishing. In fact, I quite enjoy the process of sitting in a boat, in a quiet cove in the middle of a lake, just waiting for something (preferably not a stump) to pull down on the end of my line. I'm not opposed to deer being killed for food and, in fact, much prefer it to the alternative of confining animals in pens until time for their mass slaughter and haphazard production into frozen hamburger patties. I am opposed to guns. I will never own one, despite continuous warnings that I need one for my own personal safety. My former roommate once kept a gun concealed in our home, because she knew I would not be keen on its presence (I found out when we were in the process of moving out). I teeter between two worlds, but if I were to let go I would fall on the side of non-violence. Despite my family's preference, I am a natural born pacifist.

When I attended the Christian Community Development Association's annual conference this fall, I had the opportunity to sit in on several sessions with Shane Claiborne, whose book the Irresistible Revolution I had devoured last spring. One theme he focused on relates to his upcoming release, Jesus for President. Claiborne is not endorsing a political party, but rather a peculiar politic. One particular story he shared, was regarding the response of the Nickel Mines Amish Community to horrific shooting that occured in their schoolhouse. This community came together immediately, and forgiveness immediately flowed out of their hearts and into the family of the shooter. Less than a month before the CCDA conference, it had been reported that, on top of the powerful example of forgiveness already displayed, they were now passing along donations they had received to the wife and children of the man who killed the little girls in their community. I heard him tell the story several times that week, and each time I cried. Just last week I found myself thinking about the story again, and ordered an "Amish for Homeland Security" t-shirt from the Another World is Possible website.

Another person I had the pleasure of hearing from at the conference, was Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, also part of the New Monasticism project. Part of Jonathan's Iraq story is relayed in Claiborne's first book, but you can also read about it in more detail in To Baghdad and Beyond. What Shane, Jonathan and others experienced in Baghdad is yet another amazing story of grace and forgiveness. Shane and Jonathan both live in intentional communities, Shane at the Simple Way and Jonathan at Rutba House. The story of Baghdad is woven into the fabric of Rutba House, and the lives of those who lived it. Shortly after 9/11, they traveled to Iraq with a Christian Peacemaker Team, to display the love of Christ to the Iraqi people. They had some wonderful interactions with the people there, but were kicked out as the U.S. troops began moving into Baghdad. As their caravan was leaving through the desert, a tire on one of the cars was hit by shrapnel and they were stranded and injured. Some Iraqis passing by took the injured people to a town called Rutba to receive medical care. The doctor who greeted them made it clear that grace was being extended to them: “Three days ago your country bombed our hospital,” he said. “But we will take care of you. Christian or Muslim, Iraqi or American—we take care of everyone.” When they were ready to leave and asking to make a payment, again the doctor had a peculiar reaction: “You don’t owe us anything. Please just tell the world what has happened in Rutba.”

Our LifeGroup is studying Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. Last night, we studied Peace. We talked about the difference between peacekeeping, which often finds us clinging to false peace, and peacemaking, which is active and selfless. The crux of understanding peace is understanding that it only comes through submission to the authority of Christ. His ways are not our ways, and His ways are greater. Peace does not require resolution. Peace does not require clear answers. Peace can come in the midst of crisis and chaos. Peace is not about peaceful circumstances, it is about allowing Christ to take over control of your life. Peace is the opposite of the sins of division: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. Peace is trusting Christ.

This morning I awakened to the tragic news of the
shootings in Colorado. I am sad. I am sad for the people who walked out of a sermon and into the line of fire. I am sad for those living at YWAM, going through discipleship training, and experiencing such an intrusive loss. I am sad for ministries who will now hesitate to show hospitality to those seeking shelter. I am sad for congregations who will train their greeters how to be weary of questionable visitors. I am sad, but I am also disturbed. I am disturbed by this scenario:

The gunman was killed by an armed security volunteer at the church before police arrived, authorities said. The gunman's name was not released. Officers found several smoke-generating devices on the church campus; their intended purpose wasn't clear.
Boyd said the security guard rushed the attacker, who didn't get more than 6 feet inside the building, and "took him down in the hallway."
"She probably saved 100 lives," Boyd said of the guard. The gunman, he added, "had a lot of ammunition to do a lot of damage."
About 7,000 people were on the church campus at the time of the shooting, said Boyd. Security had been beefed up after the shootings hours earlier in Arvada, he said.

I am disturbed, because the idea of a congregation needing security to be "beefed up", or even the need for an "armed security volunteer" seems to be in contrast to this:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

Peace is submission to the authority of Christ. Peace trusts, despite the circumstances. God, grant us Peace.

1 comment:

faith said...

"Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called Sons of God"...my friend quoted that to me, then said, 'God's kids are peace makers, yet so many Christians support war, it doesn't make sence.'

I agree. I'm a pasifist too.