This article also appears in the June 2019 issue of Diocesan Post
“Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another, to cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.” -Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Discipleship is a call and response. It is a call to live in a particular way and to be shaped by a lifestyle. Jesus calls us to live in relationship to kingdom values. Central to these values are the beatitudes. The beatitudes shape and form us as we seek to live as disciples and make the world a fairer and more just place.
I have said that our renewed relationship with first nations will make us a better people and a better church. I believe this to be true because we have engaged with one another on a journey of reconciliation. I believe reconciliation to be central to the Gospel that we believe. In our engagement of reconciliation, we have learned how to deal with conflict or dispute and the need to bring honesty to these experiences. It has been, I believe, this journey of reconciliation that has brought back into the centre who we are and a renewed sense of who we must become.
It is in the shaping of disciples that we form the conduct and character that is necessary in those who are called to follow Jesus Christ. There is always conflict or dispute—we live with that reality. Our call is to make sure this does not become disruptive to our common life or destructive to our relationships. Up front is a disposition, a way of life, that enables us to live with difference. Before we see conflict becoming dispute, we are called to live in a particular way that will prevent this conflict becoming hurtful.
It is a matter of seeing every opportunity, no matter how difficult or challenging, as engaging in God’s ministry of reconciliation. It is the ability to live with diverse points of view. We do not deny what we believe to be true. It is not being passive about our beliefs; it is not using those beliefs to hurt or dehumanize others. We are not all called to believe the same, for that is not unity. Uniformity of belief was not the plan of Jesus, but became the work of the church through empire.
Below are some principles to develop before conflict rises and we are faced with dispute:
- See others as children of God.
- Understand that God will be found in the space between. Understand we see through a glass dimly.
- Be open to learn from those who believe differently.
- Be gentle in language and spirit. You do not have to agree with others, nor they with you, to live in peace.
- Sometimes it is important to be quiet. Sometimes it is important to speak. Choose wisely the time to speak or be quiet.
- Trust the Spirit’s presence and guidance.
- Understand you will be changed by these conversations.
As we live at being disciples of Jesus, the call for us is to put our belief into action. We cannot just believe a creed and not have that affect our lifestyle and behaviour.
May the warmth of complexity shine in your face.
May the winds of good change blow at your back.
May your feet find the roads to authenticity.
May the web of change begin!
-John Paul Lederach