Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bridges

If you happened to knock on the door of our family's home some Saturday night in 1968 or later, it's entirely possible you'd have found my sisters, older brother and me home by ourselves.  Now and then, our parents went out to dinner or to Cougar sporting event.  And they'd leave us by ourselves, tell us to behave ourselves, mind our manners and go to bed on time.  Then they'd drive off, confident that we'd behave in their absence exactly as we did in their presence.

But what happened in their absence was inevitable, I now know (having become a mother myself and seen it in my own children!).  Some directions by one child (probably the oldest), some response like "You can't tell me what to do" (by the middle child), and before long yelling would escalate into real physical fighting.  My middle sister, the Dump, was almost as big as our big brother, and certainly the most stubborn of us with a whole lot of anger and she wasn't afraid to use either.  She had a way of taking her size and using it to her advantage--by sitting on people.  Big brother included.  

My position during these battles was usually standing somewhere out of harm's way and yelling (almost at the same volume as the fighters), "DON'T FIGHT!"  Let me tell you, it was mighty effective in getting them not to fight, too.  Solved a whole lot of arguments, I did, though I tried mightily.  Every single time.  For two reasons. First, I was smaller than my middle sister and older brother and if a bruhahah got brewing and I got stuck, it'd be no laughing matter for me. But the second reason was more significant.  I wanted to be able to tell my parents in all honesty that not only had I not fought, but that I'd tried to stop the others.  That was my sole motivation.  

I almost always think of this when I think of the Beatitude in Matthew 5:9. "Blessed are the peacemakers..."  because what I was doing bears little resemblance to the kind of peace-making referred to here.  The Beatitudes finish so well, with such teeth, that we must understand the peace Jesus speaks.  The word peace in this Beatitude comes from the Hebrew concept 'Shalom', which is a deep, reconciling peace, rather than a simple tranquility, or ending a conflict.  Being a peacemaker, in Jesus' words, means being a community-builder.  A peacemaker stands between people, grasps a hand from each, draws them together so that they can be reconciled and in relationship with each other.

What it is not--patently NOT--is getting in the middle of a fight in order to 'fix' it, or jumping into a battle in an effort to be known as the hero. I am not saying there is never a time for action on another weaker brother or sister (or nation)'s behalf, but I wonder if we don't act more easily than we pray, or whether we don't pursue peace as the world gives--or as I was pursuing it as a child--to be known as the good one.  Peacemaking in the Kingdom is a quiet work that doesn't care about taking credit.  We live in a culture that tells us otherwise.  It tries to say that the way of peace must often be a way of war. But war, I think, puts up walls--barriers--between people. It's the opposite of the bridges of peace. Indeed, any child can see the holes in the idea of attaining peace via war.  Seriously, how many parents would tell their child to hit his sister so that she will cease hitting him?  

Ephesians 2: 14 tells us that Christ is our peace who has broken down every wall--all those walls the wars to bring peace build.  In the world we will have trouble, John tells us, but HE is our peace.  So when Jesus tells us we are peacemakers, He also gives us Himself as that peace. And the way to make peace is to practice it. To live it first.  Within ourselves and with each other. 

The promise here is "For they will be called children of God." This promise reminds of of that verse in Ephesians 2. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is our peace. When we act as peace-makers, working on His behalf--with Holy Spirit-aid--we are His bridges of reconciliation between people and between people and God. Yep, as peacemakers in His Kingdom, we act as His agents, His children, His little Christs--sons and daughters of God. This is when we are most like Him who is our peace.

Will you be a bridge?

2 comments:

Elle said...

Definitely signing up to be a bridge! :)

Derrick Boyd said...

I am the bridge in my family. My two sisters never get along, and my dad is a hard nut to crack when certain family members show up. My wife and I always seem to be the ones making sure everyone gets along. God Bless You sis, and I enjoyed reading your post.

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