“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9)
In a world of zealously-guarded, embittered and brittle opinions –
revered by all holders of whatever side(s) as belief,
then, in the twinkling of their (our) eyes, they (we) exalt to the status of their (our) truths,
which they (we all), sometimes, dare,
with little of humility’s hesitation,
to consider (self-evident, universal) Truths –
when listening is a little-practiced act,
even more (worse), a lost art
(save, of course,
at the behest of that/our cherished choice
of hearing familiar sounds of agreement)
how does peace have (stand!) a chance?
how can peace be made?
As I, long ago, learned
(for the sake of human communication,
aye, for the sake of holy communion),
to define my terms:
I mean not the absence of conflict,
but rather, e’en and especially amidst the heated variance
the presence of the acceptance of difference
incarnate in the embrace of the compassioned arms
of the commonality of our humanity.
For if, when I (or so I have come to believe) reject your view,
I, in some sure (tho’, perhaps, unstated, e’en unconscious measure) reject you
and, thus, at that instant moment (tho’, perhaps, unknowingly)
relinquish my right to have my position,
be valued by you.
The above is my poetic statement of the theoria or theory of biblical peacemaking, as I understand it: what it is and what it seeks to do.
As an existentialist, a real-world question swiftly arises having to do with the praxis, the practice of peacemaking.
What happens (and it does happen) when I encounter another whose point of view is anathema to mine own? How do I attempt to make peace, “to accept the difference” I have with another whose perspectives, if I were to tolerate them might mean the death of my self – whether understood in terms of my very life or my integrity or any other measure of my sacred individuality?
Straightway, I confess I have no easy, that is, comfortable answer. Rather, my response to my question is hard, indeed, hardest.
Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9.23-24).
If I take this literally (and I do), then, as Jesus died to make peace, I, as his follower, am called by him to do likewise. That is, for the sake of seeking to make the peace of mutual understanding, to be willing and able to encounter and to engage with another – come what may, come whate’er – whose theoria and praxis, whose belief and behavior are different than mine own.
Illustration: Christ Carrying the Cross (c. 1578), Doménikos Theotokópoulos (El Greco) (1541-1614)
2 thoughts on “I want (will) to be called “a child of God””
I love this Paul, especially the fact that you said so honestly that you don’t have an easy answer!! You never ever ask us to do anything that you don’t struggle with yourself!!
I too want to be a “Child of God”!! So as you say, we continue to listen, even if we don’t want to, and try to find peace!! I watched a CNN video this week of a panel of folks who voted for Trump. I was gonna immediately go to the next video but two of the people were African-American and I wanted to hear what they had to say. One of the two men said he agreed with Trump that Charlottesville was two groups that came to fight and there were great people on both sides. Two panelists who said they regretted voting for Trump said it was because they were disgusted by how he had racially divided the country. BUT then the African-American voter said he disagreed with the other panelists and hadn’t seen any change in the racial dynamics in this country. I wasn’t angry listening to it but I vehemently disagreed with him. My first question was “where does he live and what is his life like” that gives him that point of view. I was proud that I got through the entire video without feeling angry. I wanted to understand him more and listen to him and share some of my experiences and observations since Trump has been President. Maybe I’m getting better with age.
My dear Loretta, I’m not sure that we’re getting better with age, unless by “better” you mean more open to the possibilities (aye, the probabilities!) that we’ll continue to learn largely by listening to voices and hearing from perspectives other than our own. Your experience of watching and listening to the CNN broadcast, for me, is an example of being intentionally open and present with “the other.”