i will not take these things for granted

thoughts on this and that in an attempt to live reflectively

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Location: Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Peace Project, Reflection #2

Our second paper for our peacefulness project called us to reflect on how peacefulness was demonstrated in (1) the ministry of Jesus and (2) the death and resurrection of Jesus. Here are my thoughts...

October 3, 2005

Jesus exemplified the way of peace in his life and in his submission to death. In the resurrection he defeated the power of sin, death, and Satan, thus enabling those who accept him through faith to follow him along the way of peace and wholeness. The world disapproved of Jesus’ way of life and killed him, but God wholeheartedly approved and to show it he vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead, thus giving credence to Christ’s authority to demonstrate what it is to live life in the Kingdom, in full submission to and trust in God. He, in intimate union with the Father, lived up to humanity’s potential and calls and empowers us to do the same.

Life & Ministry. The humble birth of the holy child that would bring peace to all creation was a paradigm for his life and ministry. In Jesus, divinity and humanity joined to bring wholeness to the world. Jesus lived in continuous contact with the Father, finding his identity, calling, and motivation in the Father’s testimony and will—rather than in attaining earthly comfort, wealth, or glory. His ministry was all about revealing the true glory of the Kingdom of God—a kingdom with a perfect ruler in search of servants to reflect his complete perfection. In contrast to worldly perceptions, the way of perfection and completeness is not worldly power, possessions, control, or coercion, but the power of love, trust, forgiveness, mercy, selflessness, and submission. Jesus did not force people to follow him, nor did he heal them against their will—his will and their faith cooperated. Jesus put the needs of others before his own—his compassion often overrode his need for solitude. Jesus broke societal barriers of acceptance, happily and hospitably communing with the marginalized of society. Jesus spoke out against the oppressive structures and people of society, showing that he desired leaders who would serve, take care of, empower, and ease the loads of others. Jesus was so committed to this way of life that he was willing to die in order to share it with others—to submit to the violence of the world in order to transform it. He lived life to the full, enabling us to do the same.

Death & Resurrection. Jesus death was a summation of his life of submission. His peaceful, loving, forgiving attitude throughout his trial and crucifixion demonstrated his ethical teachings regarding the way of the Kingdom. And the good news is God showed his approval of this way of life, of this type of commitment that so starkly contrasts with the ways of the world, by raising Christ from the dead. Thus, all people are authorized to adopt this way of life, knowing that they too will be accompanied by the suffering Savior throughout the journey and that they too will be vindicated on the last day. But this is not all of the good news.

It is also that the death and resurrection of Jesus have broken the entangling power of sin, death, and Satan. Accepting Jesus in faith, we are empowered to become like him and are freed by the love, grace, and mercy of God from our sinful past—from our lives lived contrary to God’s harmonious will for the world. Furthermore, in making reconciliation to God possible for all people, Christ created one new humanity, breaking down the barriers of hostility that dominate human relationships between differing peoples. In his death and resurrection Jesus created one, new, whole, peaceful humanity.

Key Death and Resurrection verses:

Romans 5:1-11; 6:5-11
Ephesians 2:14-18

...My next post will be about how practicing peacefulness requires and creates community.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Peace Project

This semester in a class called Narrative Evangelism we participated in an excellent group project. Our task was to focus on an aspect or discipline of the gospel as a pathway to repentance. In other words, by focusing on our topic (ours being peacefulness) and what it means for our lives, we would see how unlike God our lives are and how much we need to grow. And in seeking growth, we would develop a witness, a testimony—we would have something to share with others about how God is making his good news of peace come alive in our lives. The project culminated at the end of the semester with a presentation (in a coffeehouse atmosphere) of the gospel from the perspective of peacefulness. Here is the project description we were given at the beginning of the semester:

Peacefulness—In a world that expresses power through control, what would it mean to live as God’s peaceful people in the world? The implications run from parenting to leadership to dispositions toward violence. It is not hard to make the case that we live in a violent world. Is there good news to be heard from God’s peaceful people? What would it mean to live considering others better than ourselves? To love our enemies?

Cool project, eh? Our initial assignment was for each group member to write a one-page reflection on how the peace project would take shape in their lives. Here is my initial commitment for the semester project. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll try to post some of my other reflections from the semester. Enjoy! And, oh yeah, merry Christmas! Peace on earth; good will toward all people...

September 18, 2005

In our fast-paced, volatile culture, the reality of God’s peaceful reign is no doubt good news, making it imperative that God’s people embody his peace. Practicing peace this semester will impact my relationship with God, self, others, and creation.

Trusting God. Submitting to the shalom of God will mean aligning my will with his. It will mean praying in non-manipulative and non-demanding ways—seeking guidance and blessing with his glory rather than my desires in mind. It will not mean hiding my negative feelings from God, but rather being open and honest with them as a means to deeper intimacy. It will mean looking to God, rather than relationships with others or the things of this world, as the only lasting source of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Loving Self. Closely related to trusting God is loving self—because only when one knows, loves, and trusts God can one be fully at peace with oneself. My perfectionism and pressures from society to perform combine to make me an anxious person, especially in social situations. Via prayer, meditation on and repetition of scriptures related to my identity as a child of God, and intentionally monitoring thought-patterns, replacing bad ones with good ones, I hope to become a person more pervaded by God’s peace, to become more confident and worry-free.

I do not plan to fast from media with violent content, but I will be more cognizant and critical of the myth of redemptive violence—that violence is a valid path to peace—and the myth of the loner hero—that heroes and successful people go it alone—in the media I imbibe. The truth that transcends these myths is (1) Christ’s sacrificial and submissive way of peace and (2) the importance of mutual support in community.

One final issue that warrants my attention is internal anger toward others. Curbing negative thoughts toward others and replacing these with the truth that God loves them will help motivate me to be a blessing to others.

Blessing Others.
Sharing the peace of God with others will mean seeking to help others to find healing, wholeness, and reconciliation in God—by helping them to know the truth of God’s love and his will for our lives. Specifically, I see potential for this in the weight room, reaching out in friendship to younger and/or less popular guys. In the weight room and in as many relationships as possible, I will characterize my interactions with peace by being generous with my time and attention, by recognizing and losing myself in the needs of others, by being submissive rather than dominating in relationships and conversations, and by employing encouraging language rather than language that tears down—limiting behaviors and jokes that hurt others and replacing them with compliments and words that empower.

Stewarding Creation. Knowing that God’s created world is a blessing to be enjoyed responsibly rather than abused or wasted, I will seek to recycle even when it is not convenient and will avoid wasting electricity, gas, water, and disposable goods (paper, plastic, glass, Styrofoam). In addition to prevention, a minor avenue of intervention will be picking up trash as I come across it.