Friday, March 25, 2016

Jesus - Peacemaker or "loser"? Ask Pentaquod.

From the 1st chapter - "Voyage One: 1583" - of James Michener's 1978 novel, Chesapeake:
Reluctantly, he was coming to the conclusion that he must leave this tribe which had done everything but outlaw him publicly. As a child he had watched what happened to men declared outcasts, and he had no desire to experience what they had suffered: the isolation, the scorn, the bitter loneliness. . . . The trouble had started that day when he voiced his apprehension over a raid proposed by the high chief. . . . the Susquehannocks of the middle section had never in Pentaquod's life been easy in times of peace; they felt intuitively that they should be on the warpath, proving their manhood.
To me, this seems to aptly describe Americans today. And we Christians seem to be leading the way. Instead of seeking peace, we beat the drums for war and the bushes for enemies. We seek conflict to prove our "greatness." We make war to stake our claim to the political power that is our obsession. We hurl epithets - such as "weak" and "losers" - at those who seek first to negotiate and to compromise. We make outcasts of those who Jesus called the least of these, those who he told us to serve in order to serve him.
Who gets lost in all of this? The one whose death and resurrection we acclaim this week. He lived, died, and rose to give us victory, but we still act as those whose hope is in ourselves rather than in Him. We act as those who are defeated rather than victors.
Jesus' teachings and commandments still make us uncomfortable, so we find a way to explain them away and wriggle out of doing them. But these words were not simply a hollow sound bite or applause line; they ring throughout Jesus' life, every action, every teaching:
"Blessed are the peacemakers."
- Jesus the Christ in his sermon on the mount