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Tag: reconciliation

responding to terror

responding to terror

If this is indeed a spiritual war, as I believe it is — not Christianity vs. Islam — but the way of peace vs. the way of violence, it must be fought, and may only be won, with spiritual “weapons:” prayer, steady resolve, unflagging attempts at reconciliation, refusal to let fear or grief, as real as they may be, diminish our hope or our joy. We will win, the earth will win, not by annihilating the enemy, but by loving the enemy, not by making war, but by making something beautiful of our selves and our world.

Answering violence with violence may make small gains and win some short-term sense of security, but in the long run, this security is illusory, and the only winner is violence itself and all of us are the losers.

Is this way expedient? Does it pass the common sense test? No … but common sense and expediency are never the arbiters of what is right. Let’s not be stronger, but wiser … and better.

change of heart

change of heart

Change of heart book coverThis last Sunday, I shared some of Jeanne Bishop’s story in my sermon entitled, Be the church: forgive often. In April, 1990, Jeanne’s pregnant sister and her sister’s husband were murdered in their home by a sixteen-year-old neighbor. Ms. Bishop has just published a book entitled, Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer, chronicling her journey toward forgiveness and toward the call to move beyond forgiveness into reconciliation. You may find more information about the book at http://changeofheart.wjkbooks.com.

You may also read more about Jeanne Bishop’s story in this Chicago Tribune article: Woman touched by violence believes in murderer’s redemption.

blaming the victim?

blaming the victim?

I am reprinting in its entirety a response to a Facebook message posted a week ago by Franklin Graham. The open letter has thirty-two original signatories, including members of the Sojourners community, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Christian educators, and community activists.

Here is Franklin Graham’s post:

Listen up–Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and everybody else. Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience. If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air. If a police officer tells you to lay down face first with your hands behind your back, you lay down face first with your hands behind your back. It’s as simple as that. Even if you think the police officer is wrong—YOU OBEY. Parents, teach your children to respect and obey those in authority. Mr. President, this is a message our nation needs to hear, and they need to hear it from you. Some of the unnecessary shootings we have seen recently might have been avoided. The Bible says to submit to your leaders and those in authority “because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.”

And here is the response:

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i have a dream

i have a dream

I have a dream …

Like the dream of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is a dream about reconciliation. It is a dream about two groups of people divided by history and culture and prejudice learning to live together, to respect each other, to recognize the strength and beauty in each other, to work alongside each other to make the world new.

I dream of reconciliation between “progressive” Christians and “evangelical” Christians. I use these particular terms because they are the terms the two groups use to identify themselves. I put the terms in quotes, however, because the words may not be the most apt descriptors for the two groups. “Progressive” Christians may well be evangelical in the sense that they bear a message of good news into a hurting world. And “evangelical” Christians are certainly progressive in that they seek not just to preserve the status quo, but to transform it.

Why do I dream of reconciliation? Because the antagonism and mistrust of each group for the other cripples their witness and defames the name and the way of Jesus! And Jesus is what they have in common. They are “progressive” Christians … “evangelical” Christians. The key to reconciliation must be found in what they do have in common: Jesus Christ, Jesus the Christ who prayed that his followers be one.

It may seem preposterous to think these two groups have anything at all in common. Their values and principles and practices are so much at odds that surely one must be mostly right and the other mostly wrong. Or both groups may be mostly wrong. Now, I believe, we are getting closer to the truth! Both “progressive” Christians and “evangelical” Christians need a healthy dose of the cardinal Christian virtue — humility.

“Progressive” Christians need to realize, need to BELIEVE, that they need Jesus; it is not Jesus that needs them. They need to learn from Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet, to be content with saying nothing, doing nothing, coming empty-handed to Jesus to listen, to be healed, to be given gifts of light and life. They need to work hard, yes, but know that the future rests in God’s hands, that at every moment they live in and by and for the grace of God.

“Evangelical” Christians need to realize, need to BELIEVE, that Jesus does not need them to defend him or to speak for him. Jesus can that just fine on his own, thank you! Instead of telling everyone else what Jesus wants them to do, they need to listen to Jesus themselves … and obey. Not listen to the “Jesus’ jargon,” the packaged “gospel” all done up neat and tight, but listen to the real Jesus. Read the gospel record and listen! And then … follow.

I have a dream … that all of those, all of us, who desire nothing more than to follow Jesus faithfully, will need no other title than Christian. That word will say enough. And that word, that name, will be one that brings us together and leads us into the world with news that is truly good!