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

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.


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