Engaging Conflict Part 3
So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. Genesis 2:19-20
In the first devotion in this series on engaging conflict, we reflected on conflict as a part of God’s created world. It exists naturally because we are each wonderfully but differently made. In the second in this series, we reflected upon how to engage conflict effectively we must start with our own hearts, checking in with our Maker first, because our relationship with God will surely be reflected in how we engage with others-especially those with whom we disagree. Today we reflect upon how we name things and their role in engaging conflict.
In the passage from Genesis God empowers Adam (the adamah-the human) to name the things God created. What we call things matters. When we baptize, we offer the name of the one to be baptized and then we baptize by name in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
As a child, my great Aunt June who lived in Georgia talked of the War of Northern Aggression (hear: “wah of tha NAH then aGRE shun”). In elementary school, I first learned that this same war was called the Civil War. And indeed, my hometown of Kenosha has a Civil War Museum. Later I learned that the war should be called “The War Between the States,” A statue in Kenosha’s Library Park honors those who fought in that same war which was called “The Great Rebellion.” Certainly, this name carries a viewpoint about that war which was very different than that of my Great Aunt June. The dedication leaves out the bravery of women and others whose bravery and sacrifice went unnoticed. How do we grow forward beyond our preferred language and views? As followers of Jesus, we know that neither vengeance nor judgment belongs to us. Our preferred language is witness to our own viewpoint, upbringing, education, and circumstance. The Christian invitation is to love the “Other” - the Samaritan, the woman, the tax collector, the leper, the unclean, the sinner - whoever is “other” to us is precisely the one Jesus challenges us to open hearts too! This is the most challenging action required of followers of Jesus. When we open our hearts to Others, we strive to understand and appreciate. We need not agree but we do need to put appreciation of the precious child God created ahead of our own imperfect opinions even when the viewpoint of the other is abhorrent to us. Perhaps we learn the most and provide the strongest witness for Jesus when our love transcends difference.
Please pray with me:
Lord, Jesus, help me to love as you love. Give me eyes to see the goodness in those who see and name the world differently than I do. Give me the courage to withhold judgment but not love, that my witness to the world demonstrates the power of the Gospel and my love for you. Amen.