Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ushered into Deep Peace, Part 1

Some recent thoughts on reconciliation and peace drawn from Matt. 18, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, Ephesians 2:13-20... I'm posting this in 3 parts.  

But first, a story:

A boy and his mom were shopping at Trader Joe’s.  The mom sent her son to go get some shredded cheese while she picked up some chicken.  She stood there, trying to discern if there’s any real difference between organic and all-natural chicken… or at least any difference big enough to warrant the extra 1.70 per pound… when, out of the corner of her eye, she notices that her son and a TJ employee are looking at her and her son is pointing… and her son has that look on his face… the one that says, “please don’t be mad.”  And the TJ employee has that look on his face… the one that says, “what kind of mother are you?”

Even though the mom feels like she’d like to turn around and see who they might be pointing at, she knows she has to be the adult, and so she goes over to see what the problem is.  Turns out the son was experimenting… making the chore of getting cheese a little more interesting than it needed to be… and ended up doing some very minor product damage in the process.  The TJ employee told the mom he just wanted to “make sure you knew what was going on.”  The son immediately starts saying, “I’m so sorry, Mom… I’m so sorry.  I don’t know what I was thinking…”  Of course he’s sorry… he got caught.  Mom encourages the boy to apologize to the TJ man, which he does.  Mom offers to buy the damaged product, the TJ man says that’s not necessary… they’re so nice at Trader Joe’s!

The boy wants to flee from the scene of his crime. As they buy their groceries, the boy scans the store continuously… not wanting to see the evil man in the Hawaiian shirt again.  The Mom is thinking about how to help this boy learn a valuable lesson here through natural consequences… she says she needs to think about a consequence and he’ll need to wait until she’s prepared to let him know what that will be.

As soon as they get out of the store and into the car, the boy falls apart.  Now he’s not just sorry about getting in trouble… he’s actually sorry about what he did.  He has realized he made a mistake.  He knows he was wrong.  And he feels exposed.  He is hiding his face… trying not to cry… and he says, “I feel so ashamed.  Can we just never shop at Trader Joe’s ever again?”

He has done something wrong.  He felt terrible.  He never wanted to see the man who had drawn attention to his mistake ever again.  He was humiliated, ashamed.  He was standing naked in the garden… desperately looking for an animal skin to cover his shame.

And we’ve all been there.  Feeling naked… wanting to hide… because we did something wrong or hurtful and someone pointed it out to us… or, because we’ve been hurt and we want to build walls to protect ourselves in the future.

It’s easy to become estranged… from family members, from coworkers, from neighbors, from friends.  And it’s easy to become estranged from one another in the body of Christ.  It’s easy to start feeling strange about each other.  It’s easy to assume we know what people think of us, how people feel about us… it’s easy to write one another off as people that are too difficult to be around… 

But out of this place of making assumptions about each other… writing one another off… wanting to avoid each other…

God ushers us into lives of deep peace with one another.

God can usher us into this deep peace because it’s the peace that He, through Christ, has initiated.  Through Christ, God has reconciled Himself to us.  We estranged ourselves.  We broke all of our promises.  We spit in God’s face… but God didn’t avoid us.  All through scripture, we see that God never stopped moving toward His people.  Never avoided.  Never stopped initiating reconciling dialogue.  And in Christ’s death and resurrection, we see the completion of the reconciliation He began when He mercifully provided animals skins to cover the nakedness that imprisons us in shame and avoidance.

Through Christ, we are newly created.  Through Christ, we are new creation.  We, who were once strangers and aliens… who were once far off, have been brought near.  We are reconciled to God, through Christ.

Because we are newly created, we can see our brothers and sisters as new creation.  Christ in me sees Christ in you and wants our relationship to be ruled by Christ’s peace, love, authority, mercy - new creation.  Christ in me does not shrink away or hide from Christ in you… 

Through Christ, God ushers us into lives of deep peace with one another.

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