Photo Credit: Greta Ceresini

Emotional Pacifism – Laying Down My Weapons

In Church by Caris Adel37 Comments

Photo Credit: Greta Ceresini

“My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting…”

I read this verse in John during Holy Week and realized I fight for Jesus.  I need to lay down my weapons.  I need to stop fighting for him.  Need to stop fighting for what people think of him, fighting for how people misuse him.  It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the rules and the politics, the idea that his kingdom is a worldly one, a human one, and it needs me to fight for it.

I speak pacifism, but I’m no better than Peter in the garden with a sword.  I have been legitimately and profoundly hurt over and over again in Jesus’ name, and those scars have somehow turned into swords as I insist people stop being so mean!

I forget so easily our call is to follow Jesus and live out redemption and restoration loving God and others.  And instead I brush with broad strokes so many people, lumping them in with the hurtful ones, assuming your denomination makes up the sum of who you are.

I need to lay my weapons down.  All who take up the sword die by the sword.  I cut myself off from honesty and community when I make snap judgments and start firing bullets.

I read a sermon about how the Church needs evangelicals and mainliners, just like a body needs to inhale and exhale.  And all I could think was, what if you’re breathing polluted air?  But I don’t know if it’s healthy for me to continually be pointing out pollution.  I absolutely believe there are dangerous systemic sins in the evangelical movement, and we need people to be breaking down the doors.

But I don’t know how to keep doing that while trying to let my bitterness seep away.  I don’t know how to address issues without turning mean and hateful.  {The #ERLCSummit is a prime example.}  Junk needs to be called out.  People need to be loved and supported.  But personally, it’s a fine line between speaking up and being toxically angry.  And it’s difficult in knowing where that line is, and it isn’t going to be the same for every person, for every bridge builder and reconciler.  I have to remember, like Glen says, not to lump them all together.  I have to remember my dear friend who is a Baptist pastors’ wife and I know they are not all like that.

I have to find a way to lay down my weapons.  The kingdom is not one of rightness and wrongness.  It’s not for me to convince people who don’t want to hear, that wedges are being driven between people and Jesus.

It is blindingly obvious and borderline Christian cheese, but the only person I can change is myself.  I can only do my best to live into what I believe, can only follow Jesus down the road he is leading me on.  Maybe part of this struggle is my personality; maybe part of it is the learned behavior from evangelicalism where there is a fierce obligation to prove their rightness.  But it’s just not emotionally healthy for me.  Or anyone I meet.

I’ve purposely joined a small group of mostly evangelical women, and it’s been fairly amazing.  They are continually breaking down my assumptions of what ‘those people’ are like.  Part of laying down weapons is keeping arms open to people, even when I have a learned wariness about them.  It is humbling to be disarmed by welcoming love when you’re braced for a fight.

Part of walking around weaponless is to be reminded that all people are worth knowing, worth loving.  And knowing them is worth the risk of getting burned in the same ways again.  Doesn’t seeking the way of non-violence mean accepting risk?  How can I accept the risk of love, the threat of abandonment, if I withdraw into bitterness?

For the good of humanity, I have to lay down my weapons.  I have to give up my pride in being right, in being heard.  I have to keep learning the humility of following Jesus no matter what other people think.

I have to lay down my arms.  The kingdom is not of this world. 


Linking up with Kathy’s synchroblog on Bridging the Divides.

Here’s the list of other bloggers contributing posts related to healing the divides this month:

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