by John K.Stoner (June 8, 2015)
What if the human project is nurturing the good ("that of God"--Quakers) in all people? How do we do that?
In my previous post, I proposed that empires divide humanity into "good" people (us) and "bad" people (them, the expendable). I said that Jesus had a different view, which was that all people, all individuals are within themselves divided by good and bad.
The way of Jesus is to nurture the good in all people. But how is that done?
We don't know everything about that, but from Jesus and listening to our own hearts, we do know some essential things. (This builds on Berry's post, “Dualistic Thinking in the Bible.")
First, we know love.
Love wills the shalom of the other. Unconditional love wills the shalom--health, wholeness, happiness--of all others, no matter their sins or their strangeness.
This will toward the shalom of the subject, of the other, must be imaginative, planned, bold, persistent, hard-working, friendly and welcoming. All of this is the peacemaking which Jesus called blessed.
Second, we know forgiveness.
Forgiveness assumes a world in which there is right and wrong. It does not assume that anyone knows all about right and wrong, but it assumes that there are standards of behavior which damage relationships when violated.
Forgiveness extends another chance to the other person. If we are reasonably healthy people, we do that for ourselves--more than once, regularly. The mature person is learning to forgive others as they forgive themselves because they know, or are learning, that that is the process of human development. Forgiveness implements seeking the shalom of the other.
Third, we know acceptance.
Acceptance is the practice of persistent welcoming. Acceptance knows the faults, foibles and failures of others and welcomes them into the circle regardless.
Acceptance is committed to maintaining the bonds of human relationship in the face of and in spite of violations of standards of behavior. It does not abandon teaching standards of behavior and nurturing people in living up to their own ideals, but it seeks to create and maintain relationship despite failures, real or imagined.
Finally, we know community.
Love, forgiveness and acceptance are the basics of community. Community is Jesus' alternative to empire.
We'll say more about building community in future blogs.