Monday, November 21, 2005

Rules of Engagement For Us

We've talked about the different perspectives different people have on the subject of war. We've even talked a little about how we each have arrived at our positions, and I've encouraged you to think carefully about where your opinion might lie on the spectrum between "Realists", "Just War Advocates" and "Pacifists". For the record, I am in the Just War camp, but I am closer to "Pacifism" than I am to the "Realists".

I cannot personally square the idea of pre-emptive strikes for a number of reasons. Primarly, it assumes the worst in someone else, and the Bible tells me that love, while remaining far from naive, assumes the best in others. I want to do that until I'm given a reason not to.

None of that is the thing I want to talk about in this post, however. What I want to do here is give a couple of suggestions for how we can all co-exist and hold onto our own convictions without disrespecting others. I will offer two thoughts today:

1. When you reach your conviction, please stay open and capable of being moved in either direction as the Holy Spirit and further study leads you. One of the worst things that can happen is for a person of faith to believe they have arrived at some final position and refuse to be open to God's further leading.

2. When and if you find yourself moving to a new place of conviction, please be mature enough to respect people who hold different convictions. One of the other worst things that can happen is when people of faith demean and belittle other people. Jesus said the supreme value is love. Involved in love is respect. Involved in love is the determination of your will to seek to understand, to listen first, to maintain peace. Instead of judging others, we should ask, "Would you help me understand how you arrived at your position? Was it your parents? Was it something you read in the Bible? Was it a teacher?"

There are brilliant, godly people who hold a position a little bit different from our own. We can all come to the same church and be involved in a loving community. We don't all have to vote and believe the same way. We all got different input and are trying to figure this out and be led by the Spirit of God, but we can still love and respect one another. We must.