I'm going to get right to it. No fancy pictures, no special layout, just words. There's been a lot of controversy floating around the Mizzou community in recent days. Some would say it's been weeks, others months, some say it's been years. Whatever your take on it, we've got a community where tensions are boiling over. Time to do my job. As a pastor I have a responsibility and a great privilege to remind people that the Christian faith confesses that peace can be found. Let's find it.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 5 the apostle Paul talks about reconciliation. The focal point is being reconciled to God and then seeking to live at peace with others. If we are in conflict with the living God we will never manage to be at peace with one another. Any attempt we make will finally fail. We will be frustrated and our plans will ultimately fall apart.
That's what we've seen in all the tensions on campus lately. In response to the lack of true peace we've seen people talking right past one another, making accusations (some true, some not so true, just like always), and often driving wedges into the situation to divide rather than to unite.
2 Corinthians 5:19 says that God has given to his people words of reconciliation. Please bear with me as I look at two brief passages of Scripture and propose a response.
Two Passages for PeaceSeeking peace with one another is a tricky thing. It requires us to lay down our own preferences and do something. It's active. Like most of life, it's a two way street. Forgetting this is an incredible way to get run over.
In Matthew 5:21-26 Jesus tells his followers that making peace with those they may have offended is more important than making offerings to God. If we know our actions or words have offended specific people, we are to go to them and seek their forgiveness. We must be clear that when we do what is right it is not a cause for offense. We do not apologize to anyone for what is right. Yet we must realize we often mix the bad with the good.
In Matthew 18:15-19 Jesus shows the opposite scenario. If someone has offended us, we go to that person, show his fault, and seek restoration. We are persistent for a very powerful reason. The person who acts wrongly is guilty before God and needs to find that peace with God, as well as with us.
The stakes are high. Christian teaching has always centered on forgiveness. It is portrayed as a very literal matter of life and death throughout the Bible. Let's take it seriously.
I'll continue to be bold and blunt here. If we want to see peace and reconciliation, we need to have the guts to pursue it. As a Christian minister I am convinced that the only way we will do that is through the forgiveness of our wrongs given through God's grace in Jesus. I am also convinced that this is the way we will be able to forgive others, knowing that God has forgiven us a tremendous debt we could never pay.
If I can be of any help to our community in this - if I can be of help to you or anyone you know, that's exactly what I wish to do. It starts in the Word of God and prayer.
1) Please circulate this post and welcome those who are hurting to receive the loving care and forgiving grace of God.
2) This Friday, November 13, I plan to be present at the A.P. Green Chapel on campus, just east of the Memorial Union arch, much of the day. On the hour I invite people to join with me in prayer for our community. We'll use a traditional Christian prayer format which lasts about 5-7 minutes.
3) If there's anything I can visit with you about or any way I can pray with you and for you, that's what I'm here for as well.
Let's get this right! It's time to stop, breathe, pray, and be reconciled.
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Please Pray For . . .
- Development of Bible studies and gatherings for historic worship and prayer on campus.
- Faithfulness to God's Word for all those who seek to trust in Jesus and lead others in that trust, especially in the University community.
- Continued development of a good reputation at Mizzou.
- The many students who are struggling to find their place in community.
- Freedom for clear, honest, and open discussion of the historic Christian faith.
- Courage to stop everything and pray with people.
- Opportunities to share the mission of Wittenberg Door in various church congregations, as well as sharing in God's gifts of Word and Sacrament.
As a mission effort of the American Association of Lutheran Churches, much of my work depends on contributions. I'm glad to visit churches and groups of our association or others, tell them about campus ministry, and ask them for money. Individuals can help too. The more of my budget I can gather from supporters like you, the more time I can commit to carrying on the work of ministry on campus. Enough of the advertisement. If you want to help on that front, find the information on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com.
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