“Never respond to an angry person with a fiery comeback, even if [they] deserve it…Don’t allow [their] anger to become your anger.”
Right now we all need a booster shot of wisdom, common sense, decency, patience, and good will. More than ever we need to pause and breathe in God’s presence within us. Some things aren’t always easy, especially for the passionate individual, yet even passion must be tempered at times.
God did not create a world of black and white, left and right, always and never, perfect and sinful. Extremes are not where most of us live. Most of us live in the gray area, somewhere in the middle, a place where sometimes is an option, and sinful is our nature, but we strive to do better.
I turned off the news channel because it’s a constant pull of them and us. I turned on the sports channel and found more of them and us. I turned on a variety show and again, more them and us. The TV went off and I found a good book.
I find myself retreating from extremes. I don’t like the name calling from either them or us. A conversation that begins with an unwavering opinion or assumption turns me off. I don’t want to fight with them or us, I want to have a conversation. Them and us may disagree on how to approach a problem. Maybe if we listened to one another we could find some middle ground. If them and us have to be right, the conversation stops or escalates, and there we go again, moving toward extremes.
And whom should we pray for, them or us? I say for them and us, for those at the top and bottom, and everyone in between. When we pray for only those at one end of a spectrum or the other, we leave out a good portion of the Body of Christ.
And who should receive our compassion and mercy? I say for them and us. Can you imagine being compassionate toward those you despise? What would it be like if you forgave the one you cannot stand for or with? We are liars if we think ourselves full of love, and yet rage with hate inside.
It is by turning to God that we find our inner peace, and thereby are able to make peace possible. Peace can never be achieved in a rage of passion, whether implicit or explicit. Rather, it is possible when we breathe God in and meet one another in our humanity. There we learn to hold many truths about one another, the ugly, the beautiful, the sick and the well, the serious and humorous, and the gifts and shortcomings, to name a few.
I’ve been asking some self-reflective questions lately. Perhaps they will be beneficial for your personal reflection.
Am I fixated on the plank in another’s eye without looking at the plank in my own eye?
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3
Am I accepting that everything will not go my way? How can I better deal with those realities that challenge me?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
Am I willing to engage peacefully in honest and difficult conversation?
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Am I willing to avoid “group think” and trust God to help me to discern his will?
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
Am I capable of holding more than one truth about someone, thereby, seeing their humanity and letting go of negative labels?
“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25
It’s a challenge for sure. Peace isn’t some soft, fuzzy-warm concept that comes by making ourselves feel good. Peace happens when we ask ourselves the tough questions and then let God guide our words, actions, and intentions. It is surely possible that God can guide our inner peace, but we have to cooperate with him.