Second Monday of Advent – Waiting Disagreeably for the Prince of Peace – Gil George

by Christine Sine

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.

Gil nd daughter Amy

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

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0 comment

Liberata December 8, 2009 - 3:29 pm

“The pattern of the world is to disagree violently and win at all costs.”

You said it! I’ve been meditating on this myself since the President’s speech last week announcing the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Members of the peace group I belong to (some of whom belong to various churches, others of whom are non-believers), have been up in arms (!), yelling that Obama has “betrayed” them.

What did they expect? First of all, I wonder if they were listening to him at all during the campaign. He stated on more than one occasion that troop levels must be increased in Afghaniistan. Here’s one such occasion:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/20/obama.afghanistan/

Second, yes, this is indeed the way of the world. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (Jn 14:27). And how does the world give peace? Through victory in battle primarily; what Walter Wink calls “the redemptive power of violence.” Obama has many good points, but when all is said and done, why should we expect that he will not use the military power conferred on him by virtue of his position as Commander-in-Chief?

On the other hand, it is we who must witness to another way to peace.

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gilgeorge December 9, 2009 - 7:14 am

And what a challenging witness it is to live into. I am amazed by our fascination with trying to effect change by starting at the top and hoping it trickles down through the hierarchy. The most effective changes we can do are very small actions that affect our neighbors and local enemies. Maybe then peace can trickle up.

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forrest curo December 8, 2009 - 9:19 pm

I may be ahead of thee on this question… which was dumped on my plate years ago during a local fuss at Pendle Hill, which struck me as a conflict God needed to have happen at that point, though it needed to be softened and clarified by mutual love. (I ended up, later that year, doing a talk on “The Need for More Conflict Between Friends.”)

Applying this to doctrinal differences… it came to me more recently that Christian misunderstandings (and outright distortions) of Jewish scriptures were not simply a chance to practice tolerance; they had a message of their own. Both descriptions enrich our vision of the nature of God and God’s relation to humanity.

In programming… There are algorithms, and there are heuristics. An ‘algorithm’ will get you your correct answer… but may consume all available computer resources for the lifetime of the universe without yet arriving. A ‘heuristic’ doesn’t guarantee anything; but will probably give you a useful answer much faster (and you can tend check if it works.) Many religious doctrines seem more like heuristics than like algorithms; they can point someone in a direction that will probably improve his understanding & navigation of life, even if the starting point is less than complete accuracy.

And the answers to some questions… For example: “What does growing up feel like?” have to come to us via changes in ourself, not by any number of correct descriptions.

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jeni December 9, 2009 - 3:03 am

Hi Gil, Wonderful writing. I agree with you. I had some new neighbors move into my apartment about 6 months ago. They were from a different lifestyle then the others and I who currently live in this neighborhood. Tensioned ensued. At first things started small then graduated to a full blown argument. It was very sad because all of us neighbors are raising children and telling them that “this and that” that the neighbors do are horrible things and they should not acknowledge them and then we were giving an outright wrong example of how to live by raising our voices and swearing at them.
Fortunately God stepped in. I became really sick and spent time in the hospital when I came home the neighbors who we all hated asked how I was. That small question let my guard down and allowed me to see the God within them. All though I still don’t agree with there particular choice of lifestyle. They have made more of an effort to do these things away from our home and I have learned to love everyone no matter enemy or friend.

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