Tag: division

Introducing a Neighboring Challenge

Is it just me or does it seem like the level of angry rhetoric, distrust, and division in our world has reached a level that looks a little like this?

via GIPHY

You might say righteous anger is warranted, and sometimes it is. But the next time you are criticizing another – whether someone across the political aisle or across your church aisle, notice the feeling that wells up in you.

Is there a little bit of satisfied self-righteousness? I confess, there is for me.

I think the righteous anger of Jesus is accompanied by a deep sadness and desire for understanding and reconciliation. But is ours? Or are we more motivated by a “win”?

Our neighborhoods may look delightful but be divided.

Jesus calls each of us to be peacemakers. He is a welcoming God, a listening God, a connector, a reconciler and a restorer, and we should be too.

But “Peacemaker” sounds like such a big brave word – like CHANGE THE WORLD. NOW.

It sounds like it must involve world travel, high level contacts, or a job in the State Department, right?

“Too much”, you say.

“Not my job”, you say.

To that I respond, “Peace starts with a cup of coffee and a listening ear.”

The wisdom that comes from God is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favouritism or hint of hypocrisy. And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness—in other people and in themselves. James 3:18 Phillips

In the Bible, God talks a lot about our neighbors – the ones near, who we know, and the ones far away. We are called to love them all as we love ourselves. But how can we do that if we have no contact with them?

In order to neighbor we need to know.

Sooooo, I want to propose a week-long Neighboring Challenge. For each post I’ll share a passage of Scripture on neighboring and include an action step you may want to take.

Now I can just hear you young mama’s yelling “Nooooo! Not one more thing to DO!!!”

Settle down. I get it. No worries. This will not be a huge deal, and it will be a great way to model and include your kids in peacemaking. I’ll even try to include some stuff specifically for them.

I’d love to have you join in and share your experience in the comments or on Instagram with the hashtag #neighboring  so we can encourage each other. But if you just want read and watch, that’s fine too!

There have been several experiences recently that have prompted me to do this. One of them has been reading Scott Saul’s book, Befriend: Create Belonging in an age of Judgment, Isolation and Fear. If you want a good companion book for this neighboring challenge, I’d recommend it!

 

 

What a Drive-By Taught me About Peace in Israel

Peace.  We hear a lot about it.  Or the lack of it.  We talk about it when we talk about the Olympics.  Or Syria.  Or anywhere there’s been a shooting at a mall or school.  In a few weeks I’m heading back to Israel/Palestine with an organization called Telos that has the goal of working with evangelicals to help positively trans­form the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  They are pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, and pro-peace.  I thought it might be timely to share two posts from a couple years ago. Here’s the first.

Last week I was driving around running errands, preparing for our daughters to arrive for a visit and for me to leave for Israel/Palestine.  I changed into the left lane to zip ahead of an old blue-green mini station wagon.  As I accelerated past I noticed the car was significantly bashed in as if from an accident.  A man was driving the car, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone.

Confession.  Here are the three thoughts that went through my head:  This guy is irresponsible, unsafe, and makes unhealthy choices. Continue reading

Connecting the Dots in Israel

Sometimes I imagine our crazy-loving God must decide He needs to get creative in helping us connect the dots and give us a glimpse of His heart.  That’s how I felt today.

First a little background…

I’m traveling this week with a group of women in Israel/Palestine.   I saw the Holy sites  years ago, but last March when I came, I was like a cartoon character running headlong into this wall that is a concrete (literally! :)) picture of this land and how people feel.

Divided.

Now I’m back to learn more, listen more, make more new friends.

Palestinian.  Israeli.  Muslim.  Jew.  Christian.

People divided.

We’re pro-everyone, praying to absorb all that we can of the heart of God towards His people.  Praying to bring His Spirit of peace and grace into every conversation.

So today I think God got a gleam in His eye and started connecting the dots for us by reminding us of another time He connected the dots for clueless, but well meaning disciples like us.

Continue reading

Drawing lines…and crossing them

When I was growing up we took a cross-country family vacation every year.  Mom and Dad in the front seat with Mom in charge of snacks and Dad in charge of car games.  Like Alphabet and Twenty Questions.

In the back seat were me and my two brothers, Cris and David and we were in charge of…Well, let’s just say we were in charge of surviving the road trip without killing each other.  We were kids, so to that end we would draw imaginary lines across which the sibling sitting next to us couldn’t cross.  With a toe or an elbow or a pinky.  We each had our own 3’x3′ “kingdom”.  Only kids would do that, right?

Not so much.

We’re still traveling in the Middle East and a theme seems to be line drawing.

Thursday night, John and I had Turkish coffee with a Muslim refugee family who have been living since 1948 in the U.N. refugee camp next to our hotel.  Their home looks much like a simple apartment except for the fact that they still have the key to the home they had to flee.  After coffee the father walked us through the darkened streets, showing us the different places where friends and family had been killed, one shot by a sniper shooting from the roof of the hotel where we were staying just a block away.  A line has been drawn between refugees and Israeli settlers.

Saturday night we celebrated a Shabbat service with a Jewish community to welcome in the Sabbath.  The women had to sit separate from the men, a line and a partition down the middle of the worship space.  On the other side the men recited prayers and danced and sang while we women felt a bit like marginalized on-lookers.  A line between men and women.

Yesterday morning we visited the Old City of Jerusalem, again divided by lines – the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter.

And within the old city there’s the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, commemorating where Jesus  was crucified.  It too is divided and certain religions can only worship at certain times.  There were so many crowds of people, shoulder to shoulder, shuffling along, jostling for a place to get close to a “holy site”.  And I kept thinking of Isaiah 53:6 – “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us to his own way…”

But then after all these lines, there was Nadia, who we met after driving to the border of Jordan.  A border with six distinct lines, each with a different requirement we had to fulfill before we could move to the next one.  I half expected them to say “Now do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around, cuz that’s what it’s all about!!”, but these guys definitely weren’t playing games when a guard raised his gun to John who tried to walk where he shouldn’t.

Nadia is a Muslim Israeli from Nazareth who spends one whole day every week traveling and crossing the border so she can attend school the following day in Jordan, working towards her doctorate.  She crossed every line – religious, cultural, language, and nationality to reach out to us and gently guide us through each step of the crossing, including paying for the cab we were required to take the last 100 yards.

Nadia got me to thinking about the lines we drew as kids and those we draw as adults.  Or just miss seeing.  Invisible lines I may be neglecting to cross, even out of apathy.

Am I actively watching with Jesus, for the foreigner, or the outcast so that I can cross lines like He did instead of drawing them?  What about you?

© 2017 Laura Crosby

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