Discipleship Is Radical
By Dan Gregory of Urbandale, IA, USA
“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! —Luke 12:49–51 NRSV
I keep up with most of my friends through social media, and they span nearly every demographic possible. My friends, in turn, have various circles of friends they care about and with whom they interact. We bring to the table our opinions, our worldviews, and our values.
Wouldn’t you know it, sometimes—OK, often—we don’t agree. When we talk about how to respond to any number of circumstances, tensions can rise quickly. We live in a world where we experience “the struggles as well as the joys of diversity” (Doctrine and Covenants 162:4b).
Such struggles seem more painful when I disagree with sisters and brothers in my faith community. People have quoted the passage about Jesus coming to bring division, not peace to justify dismissal of my perspective and entrenchment of theirs. People have used it as an excuse for unresolved conflict: “I’m right, you’re wrong,” they think, “and if that causes deep division, so be it.”
Yes, the gospel calls us to choose, and to choose with our best understanding of the concerns and passion of Christ. In Christ, though, I find these priorities mean an invitation to deeper listening, reconciliation, the charting of a new way over once-broken paths, and hope-filled love that reaches out instead of dismisses.
We won’t always agree, but we should pause and consider how we treat the other as we share. Jesus doesn’t provide us with easy answers, but he does ask us to begin our lives as disciples in the waters of baptism. We eventually ask, are we working toward division or God’s challenging standard of peace?
Prayer for Peace
God, Allah, Yahweh, Great Spirit, Adonai, Sophia,
We are many, we are one. Help us see one another, as different as we are, with your loving eyes. Help us share the peace of Jesus Christ with those who believe differently from us.
Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle.
Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or challenging to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep us from loving one another.
Today, God, I will listen to those with whom I disagree, rather than be defensive.