O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Blessed Are the Peacemakers

posted by Jason Boyett

I haven’t posted anything yet about Saturday’s shooting in Arizona. Not because I don’t have anything to say about it, but because I’m not sure that my opinion matters. And as someone who struggles with certainty, I’m not in any position to point fingers…other than to point at our political system and say that parts of it are broken. And while I’m at it, I’ll also point at the people who make up that political system. They’re broken, too.

So am I. I’m a part of it. I’m broken.

Also, I hate politics. I hate how it pits normally reasonable people against each other.

I have liberal friends who see Sarah Palin and her gun-target graphics and us-versus-them rhetoric and conclude that conservatives, or the Tea Party, or Rush Limbaugh are to blame for the culture of hatred that has infected the political system. And these friends wonder how anyone with any common sense can support Palin or listen to Limbaugh or whatever.

I have conservative friends who are still hurt by the old hatred directed at George W. Bush — or the current contempt for Sarah Palin (which is just as violent and disturbing as anything directed at Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama) — and conclude that liberals are to blame for the culture of hatred that has infected the political system. These friends wonder how anyone with a lick of morality or reason can take that side.

So we pick a side, and then we choose to hate the other side. We call them evil, stupid, or brainwashed. We laser in on what they’re doing wrong while ignoring our own failures and inconsistencies. We are absolutely certain that we are right and that they are wrong and nothing you say can convince us otherwise.

But…

Many of my friends who are political liberals have taken that position because their Christian beliefs brought them there. Voting Democrat is a way for them to be faithful.

Living in Texas, I have many more friends who are political conservatives because of their religious beliefs. Likewise, voting Republican is a way for them to be faithful.

But this hasn’t stopped these Christians on both sides from despising the other, from demonizing the other, from refusing to listen to the other. Why? Because both religion and politics tend to make us certain, and our certainty makes us arrogant, and our arrogance makes us want to win.

And I hate it.

Blessed are the peacemakers. Love your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you.

If we insist on demonizing our political enemies, then we have to ignore a lot of what Jesus said. Ignoring Jesus is a tricky position for Christians to take, but we do it. A lot.

We’re broken.

On New Year’s Eve,
in Alexandria, Egypt, terrorists bombed a Coptic Orthodox Christian Church. Experts blame Al-Qaeda. The blast killed 21 worshipers and injured 96 more. Protests and violent demonstrations followed, especially in Cairo. In an explosive religious climate, already heated tensions threatened to boil over.

Then, last Thursday, thousands of Egyptian Muslims joined together to stop the hatred. Instead of protesting or rioting, they gathered around Coptic churches as those churches celebrated Christmas Eve (their calendar differs from ours). The Muslims acted as human shields to prevent further attacks. They took on significant personal risk in order to stand with the other side, in order to let the other side pursue what they believed in.

In that part of the world, Christians and Muslims rarely work together. They disagree on many, many things, and with deep religious certainty. They are, for lack of a better word, each others’ enemies.

But last week, the Egyptian Muslims stopped denouncing their enemies and, instead, stood in solidarity with them. “We either live together, or we die together,” they said. They are loving their neighbors…even the neighbors they disagree with.

There is hope for broken societies, and that hope comes from intentional actions of understanding. It comes from extending the kind of grace that makes people uncomfortable. At the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, it is a civility and humanity that comes from love.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Maybe if I keep saying it, it won’t just be a phrase from the Bible. Maybe it’ll turn into an action. Maybe peacemaking will become more than a lofty concept. Maybe it’ll become something I do.

 



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Jeff

posted January 12, 2011 at 8:31 am


Excellent article. I think one of the keys to being peacemakers is to start with the question and admission that you make at the beginning of the article, “So am I. I’m a part of it. I’m broken”. We are so busy being right and are so sure that THEY are THE PROBLEM that there is no room for tolerence and respect.



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JoelR

posted January 12, 2011 at 9:00 am


Without a doubt, the best thing written about this whole, sorry story.



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Lance Culbert

posted January 12, 2011 at 9:59 am


I’m with Joel…this is the best thing that I’ve read on the Arizona assassinations and on the tone of political discourse in our country.
Thanks, Jason!



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Charlie Chang

posted January 12, 2011 at 9:59 am


I hate politics. I don’t know that much about it but that’s never stopped me from having an opinion either.
A lot of Christians that I know just trump the peacemakers verse by saying something like, “Well, Revelation Jesus would agree with our stance on war.”



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Tiffany

posted January 12, 2011 at 10:49 am


Very well put!



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eduClaytion

posted January 12, 2011 at 10:55 am


Wow man, you nailed it. I teach history and political stuff and people love asking me what I think everytime a tragedy like this occurs or some crazy controversy unfolds. They usually don’t expect the types of answers I give, and those answers are very much like the thoughts you’ve expressed here. I look at both sides. Neither wins. I’ve been able to read some of your stuff over the past few weeks, but this post is my favorite yet.



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Charlie's Church of Christ

posted January 12, 2011 at 11:52 am


Sadly I don’t know if I ever really questioned the hatred that abounded for Bush (I live in a liberal state), but I now see the harm that came from it.



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Chuck

posted January 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm


Couldn’t agree more Jason! As events unfolded on Saturday, I was dismayed reading through my Twitter feed.
You know how conservative I am, so you can guess how upset I was with the rush to judgment by the liberals. It’s interesting that the facts coming out show the shooter to be neither conservative or liberal, but just plain insane.
I was also frustrated with conservatives who took the bait and threw stones right back on that day. The immediate focus from all should have been concern and prayer for healing of those injured and comfort for the families of those slain.
I can only hope that all of us can think just a bit before we speak, then maybe we can have some healing of our nation as well. A good, healthy debate is important, but let’s do it with respect.



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nnmns

posted January 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm


I like the tenor of your comments. We are broken. But some of us are more broken than others. To equate the well-founded hatred many of us had for Bush as he lied us into an illegal and stupid war in Iraq and into bankruptcy, to equate that with the hatred of Obama manufactured by Fox and Limbaugh among bigots is wrong.
And contempt for Sarah Palin, who is clearly incompetent to be president or vp, but is supported by officials of the Republican Party and was nominated by the Republican Party, and who is as divisive as she can be to become president, such contempt is a very reasonable response.
So enough of your kumbaya – “we’re all equally guilty” foolishness. We are nowhere near equally guilty.
I’ve noticed that, with a lot of the media, if Democrats are on the defensive the problem is Democrats, but if Republicans are on the defensive the problem is endemic. Well there the problem is mostly Republican behavior.
We may never establish a causal link with the shooting but we were correct in thinking there was likely to be one. You can only say irresponsible things like Palin says so long and so loud before some wacko responds as anyone might who believed what she’s saying.



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Keith

posted January 14, 2011 at 11:44 am


Jason, while I do agree with the outcome of your message – where you ended up… I was chagrined to see this one line in your message -
“And I hate it…” :-)
We still have work to do… And let it begin in me…



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flipperthedolphin

posted January 23, 2011 at 7:17 am


Having visited your beautiful country about seven times, now, having one brother in California, and another having married an American, I have grown a great affection for the U.S, for your lovely and friendly people, not to mention your rich history. However, their are a few things that disappoint me, The growing antagonism towards Obama, is one that springs to mind, who, we believe, is doing the best he can to create a peaceful and just America and world,plus given the massive headache he must have trying to recover the U.S economy from years of Republican recklessness. The other is of course, the Arizona shooting,which is tragic,no doubt, but as much as I hate to say this, a nation that has a first amendment, I think it is, that gives citizens the right to bear arms, not to mention free accessiblity to them, reaps what it sows. It’s tragic, really, as we love America so much. No offence, guys, but that’s just my take. Shalom.flipperthedolphin.



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flipperthedolphin

posted January 23, 2011 at 7:31 am


Having been to your beautiful country about seven times, now, an older brother having married an American(from Maryland originally), and subsequently spent time there(they’ve been back here in Perth for a number of years, now), and another in California, we’ve developed a great affinity with America. The richness of it’s history, the diversity of it’s environment, landmarks, and people, never cease to amaze us. You may have in your press, that your very own Oprah Winfrey, is here. I have to admit to being a bit skeptical about her for sometime, but after seeing the TV specials we have at the moment, we have never ceased to be amazed with her outpouring of generosity, and the good heart she has, particularly towards those affected by the resent Queensland floods. Having said all that though, there inevitably is a downside, and, to name a few, the Arizona shooting, which,as tragic as it is, displays what can happen, when a nation has in it’s first or second amendment(it’s gone out of my head which one), gives it’s citizens the right to bear arms, and with it, free acessiblilty to guns, for want of a better maxim, reaps what it sows. It’s sad really for a Christian nation. No offence to anyone, but that’s just my take. Greetings and Shalom.



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g

posted January 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm


Well tell GOP and all of their followers that ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ is not an NRA prayer for the Colt .45.



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Gary Mac

posted January 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm


You said — Also, I hate politics. I hate how it pits normally reasonable people against each other.
Observation has it that — the religious are absolutely political, seeking to gain the approval from constituents so they may be approved as someone holy, outstanding. I read your posts along with others and wonder what motivates one to comment. If one is sincere about the Christ he will be as Jesus was, have the same Spirit, same mind, one with the Father, He in you and you in Him as one, without merit, same actions. Religious folk talk a big talk and advise what is best for another according to their own perspective but completely overlook the real value of the issue at hand. One may say he is of Christ but all I see is personal and dire need for popularity. Perhaps I misjudge and a little short in my posts but observation is it isn’t what goes into the man that defiles him but what comes out from him. Preachers and pastors that I meet are always looking for the rich mans tithes. I guess what I am trying to say is, if one has what Jesus had he will be like him and all these political issues are for the immature in Him. It is YOU who is supposed to be that same person of Christ that Jesus was, if you are then people will flock to you in love instead of a popularity contest associated with the fleshwith a popular vote.
To be as He is isnt so easy. Think about what it would take for you to be as He is, as Jesus was. If one can put himself in His perspective with the same mind then a motivational issue associated with popularity has no meaning at all and those in Christ can see right through ones façade of self righteousness.
Thank God I’m non political in that I could care less what others think of me, I am of Christ – same one who was in Jesus, a non political figure who gained popularity without being political. A hard thing when one is looking to make a name for him self.
Gary



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Kedric

posted January 24, 2011 at 10:26 am


@Flipper the Dolphin.
Yes, the anger at Obama is getting out of hand, but at the same time, he made promises he couldn’t keep, like most political leaders. Republican recklessness? The US nation went further into debt under Obama than under Bush, even though Bush squandered billions on two stupid wars. There are reckless people on both sides of the aisle, and good economic policies as well. We had good economic times under Clinton, but also Under Reagan during his Republican years. IT’s not about a party platform, it’s about the fact that these are mere men, and both sides of the political system are totally out of hand with spending.
Second, gun control is supposed to lower crime, yes? Well, in the UK, close to 28 gun crimes are committed daily, despite guns being illegal, not even carried by foot-patrol police. In addition, knife and other weapon crime is rampant. The UK doesn’t even report crimes committed against 16 and under individuals.
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article7826.ece
The London crime rate, for example, is 7 times that of New York, despite having 1 million less in population.
The conclusion that any reasonable person comes too, is that people will commit murders and violent acts with whatever is available, guns merely increase the speed and surety of death.
If we didn’t have guns, the shooter in Arizona was still within close enough range to use other weapons, like a pistol crossbow, or an improvised pipe-bomb. Further still, with some reasonable training, he could have used a sword or baseball bat to batter through the security and kill.
Removing guns doesn’t solve all our problems, the key is regulation and psychological checks.



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Quesadilla

posted January 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm


I’ve been reading this little forum for a while now, and I must say, How can you people preach about peacemakers when all of your postings on The Mormons have been purely antagonistic? God is repulsed by your promotion of contention, especially because you place it under the facade of “Christianity.” Contention is of the devil, and those who seek to pick fights against The Mormons, et al., are much akin to the Muslim extremists who kill any and all non-Islamic worshipers ‘to please [God].’ Whatever! It goes against a New Testament warning from our Savior to even so much as be angry with one’s brother, so what gives? I find it quite antagonistic, too, that “Mormon/LDS” and “Catholic” are not lumped in with the previously listed faith, “Christian.” Mormonism is based/founded upon the ancient Church that was Christ’s when He was upon the face of the Earth, and Catholicism made it’s debut long before Protestantism ever did. And that is indeed the more accurate word for those of you too slow to remember your history. Martin Luther’s schism from the Catholic Church created “Protestantism,” NOT “Christianity.” How much more dishonest can you be? Really!



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Jason Boyett

posted January 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm


@Quesadilla:
Not sure who you’re talking to when you say “you people,” but I don’t believe I’ve done much antagonistic posting toward Mormons here at Beliefnet. And I’m not sure Bnet has as a whole (in fact, my friend and fellow blogger Jana Riess is Mormon — http://blog.beliefnet.com/flunkingsainthood).
Maybe you’ve confused “this little forum” with another one? I’m sorry you’re offended…but I’m not entirely sure how I’ve become guilty of that offense.
Thanks.



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frances

posted January 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm


“Blessed are the Peacemakers” As I was reading all the post on this subject I saw the same problem here at this site as all over the world.Everyone wants their opinion heard and agreed upon.There is no solidairity in this world.Each religion believes theirs is the right religion.They have been taught from birth that theirs is the only right religion.Same as politics.People believe that their beliefs in politics is the only right one.But what people all over does not seem to understand or acnowledge is that it is God alone that is in charge of this earth.It is going to go down the way God Himself has said in His word that it is going to happen.No matter who is the President of the USA.Citizens, you need to put your trust in God and His son Jesus Christ and not republicans,democrats, or the President of the United States. God made man because He wanted a family,he wanted people to love Him.He had been in the middle of a huge war in Heaven and He lost 1/3 of His Angels and He was probably feeling very unloved at that time.All He asked of us is to love Him and obey His commandments and to love each other.And as a species we couldn’t even do that much for Him.



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