“That’s NOT the Gospel Andy!”
I bristled inside as I felt another contrary voice rise up. Many dear friends have sought, with good intention, to re-direct my thinking and efforts back to what I should really be doing as a minister. Apparently peacemaking should not be the main thing, what I should focus on. Rather, I should attend to the spiritual, inner soul stuff. Peacemaking is not it. Whether in the Middle East or right next door in Seattle, my work to build relational bridges of understanding, and peacemaking, are tantamount to heresy. Or at least I’m missing the mark. Peacemaking should not be a priority for Christian ministers. It deals with the stuff of this world and issues that may never be solved this side of heaven.
Maybe I’m concluding too much from this, and other conversations. But honestly, I don’t think I am. I’ve heard echoes of this conversation multiple times when I speak in churches ever since I started on this journey building relational bridges with the Muslim community or seeking to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One older gentleman stated it even more clearly over coffee at church.
“You’re touching political issues when you should be focused more on spiritual matters.” That statement of course touches on a bigger problem within many churches, the sacred and profane split that we inherited from Gnosticism. That little nasty idea sabotages our role within society at multiple levels, keeping us cloistered in our church community. I used to think this way myself. I should be getting people ready for heaven more than worry about this world.
I’m beginning to put my thoughts to paper (and keyboard) on my journey in peacemaking. I’ve been forced to take a serious look at my own previous thinking on the topic. To quote Ryan Herring–“If our theology renders us silent and docile in the face of oppression, then it is quite frankly toxic to our faith.” (Sojourners, September 2015. p. 18).
Keep posted to this blog for more. Next up: From “feel good peace” to “bold Jesus peacemaking.”