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?
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!