Wise as Serpents
"Christian shrewdness must always be governed by dove-like innocence."
Dr. Tom Ascol
When I read this quote on this Sunday morning, my first thought was, "this is how we ought to go about resolving conflict especially amongst the family of God." We are indeed called to be wise and gentle. The Lord has given me wisdom in some very crucial times, but I still struggle with being gentle. I am blessed to be married to someone who has been fashioned with a very merciful spirit and he has definitely helped me in dealing with my very passionate bent toward justice.
If love is to cover a multitude of sins, then we must deal openly with the effects of those sins in order to strengthen and sure up relationships. I am coming to believe that relationships are above all the hardest things to maintain and keep in good repair and that the people involved in those relationships, especially among the family of God, are most dear to the Father in all that He has created. In the gospel of John, Jesus says, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he states, "I show you a still more excellent way," which leads into the chapter on love. Finally, we are called to live at peace with one another.
What does "loving one another look like?" Some might say, "it is when we are being kind to each other," but I believe that there can be an appearance of kindness without any love. In First Corinthians, it says (and I paraphrase) I can have the tongue of an angel and offer my body to be burned, but if either of these things occur without love, it says "I am as good as a noise gong and it profits me nothing." These two actions, speaking well and laying down my life, amount to nil if they are not motivated by love. My conclusion on the matter is the way we treat one another needs to be motivated with a heart filled with the love of Christ.
Paul tells us that this love has several characteristics, but the one I am particularly thinking of when it comes to peacemaking is: "[love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth." For Christians I think one of the hardest things for us to do is to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation. We need to say things like "this is my wrong doing" or "this is where you wrong me" or "there is something between us and I want to work it out in order to restore our relationship." There are too many Christians who don't want to work it out. It ends up coming out in ways that are far more hurtful then the pain experienced in facing the truth. In the end I have found the people who are willing to go through it become some really close friends or at the very least know that the air is clear. This enables us to live at peace.
My concept of "living at peace with all men" was passed on to me as a child as "peace at any cost." This was defined as 'whatever you do don't talk about it' (at least not with the person involved), leaving no restoration of relationships, having those relationships in disrepair and acting as if everything was fine which created a false sense of peace. Meanwhile inside myself was an uneasiness, unrest and anything but peace. The result being that every interaction after that is not only stained with the unresolved issue(s) from before, but also continues to damage the relationship and all the other relationships that overlap that one. It also is very costly because more people get hurt as a result.
So with an aching heart I pray for wisdom, gentleness and a willingness to do my part in being a minister of reconciliation, not wanting to put a band-aid where the Physician’s hand is needed.
Pax Vobiscum, CM