This second reflection for Monday of the second week of Advent comes from Gil George a Christ-centered Quaker, full-time stay-at-home dad, who attends George Fox Evangelical Seminary part-time. He has an extraordinarily cute 18 month old daughter Amy and an awesome wife Melody, and wonders if he sounds pretentious writing in third-person about himself.
Waiting Disagreeably for the Prince of Peace
In a recent conversation, a pastor friend told me about a disagreement in his church. As shocking as that may sound, the disagreement was over a relatively minor issue and he wasn’t sure how to handle it. At some point in the conversation my brain went sideways and I saw disagreement in an entirely new light. What if disagreement is a gift from God? What if we are being given the opportunity to share grace with each other? Could God be giving us the opportunity to show our main witness: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
Jesus taught that it is easy to show love to people we agree with, there is not much witness in that, so now we get to be gifted with a bunch of people who couldn’t agree on what color the carpet should be let alone what music style or order of worship to follow. The gift here is to love the people we disagree with and live at peace with them (by letting these minor conflicts exist, even welcoming them.) Maybe we do not always need to come to a resolution and we can learn to respect those who strongly disagree with us. We could let the disagreement stand, listening to one another and welcoming this diversity of opinion. In the end, we can show the world that our love for each other is stronger than our minor differences and because of that are willing to live in the tension of unresolved disagreements.
The pattern of the world is to disagree violently and win at all costs. I know that while I am not a physically violent person, I can do great mental or spiritual violence to others. This capacity lies in all of us and is a topic that we as the church avoid. Disagreement can be hard and messy and it is so much easier to pretend to agree.
What if we approached disagreement in a completely new way? What if we saw each disagreement as an opportunity for a little more of God’s grace to seep into the world through us? I am still not there. I want to win my disagreements even if the other person gets hurt. Sometimes I even want the other person to be hurt because I feel hurt. I need the Prince of Peace. We need the Prince of Peace.
Prince of Peace, come still the war that rages within us. Bring us healing and a renewed sense of love for our siblings that we are squabbling with. We confess our inability to live into your calling without your help and ask that you be swift in bringing your peace to our hearts. Help our love be the witness you desire it to be. By your grace and mercy, Amen