Ordinary, but powerful, folk

gandalfIt’s been quite a week. I don’t know about you, but when dramatic world events cause social media to explode with strident opinions and arguments, I feel a strong pull to retreat and to be quiet.

I don’t know what the answers are to the world’s problems that have been highlighted this week (and every week in truth). It’s enormously complicated. and when we view it from our perspective as we all do, we are just seeing one narrow slice of reality. What I do know is that the answers do not lie in us bashing each other across the heads with our opinions.

In part one of the recent trilogy of movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit, wise wizard Gandalf declares:

Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.

(Unlike Gandalf, Saruman had chosen the way of darkness and corruption, and found his nature tragically twisted because of it.)

As Gandalf saw, when we wonder how to respond to the incredible suffering and yes, the evil, in our world, simple everyday acts of kindness and love will always be the answer. It’s a painful truth that if all we “ordinary folk” behaved this way to those we encounter, the darkness would be kept at bay for the most part.

Brian Zahnd, lead pastor of Word of Life church, notes:

“The demonic seduction of accusation, empire, and propaganda (dragon, beast, and false prophet) always lead humanity to another bloody battlefield. Armageddon always looms. Yet hope abides. Armageddon is always a possibility, but never an inevitability. If we reject the ways of the beast and follow the way of the Lamb, Jesus will lead us away from the doom of Armageddon into the shalom of the New Jerusalem. Though the fires of destruction are always burning outside the walls, the Spirit and the Bride are always calling us into the city of the Lamb…and her gates will never be shut.”

When so many see humanity on the brink of of extinction due to endless conflict, it is such a relief to step back and see that in Jesus we possess the keys to turn things around. I don’t know if I will see it in my physical lifetime — it seems unlikely indeed. But impossible? Never. Regardless of the outcome for our world, in my own life, I can follow the Lamb, and live knowing that my eyes have not seen his peaceful victory over the powers of darkness, but in the dimension I cannot see, it has already happened. So I can live my life today in hope and faith instead of fear, and with an open heart toward all those I encounter.

In the hope that with God’s quiet leading humanity can somehow turn it all around, I am doing my best to raise my children to have open hearts toward all people — of all religions, cultures and lifestyles. They’ll have their own lives to lead and conclusions to draw, but children tend to adopt or be heavily influenced by the attitudes of their parents, and so what I model for them is crucial. People make much ado of developing their strongest friendships with people of “like mind,” and while there is nothing wrong with doing so to a degree, excluding someone from your inner circle on that basis is also one the most limiting things we can do as humans. With God’s grace, my children will not grow up learning from me to fight and argue with and exclude those with whom they disagree, but seeing instead that there is much they have to learn from people of all walks of life. I am very much hoping that they will learn that it is possible to respectfully hold the beliefs of another individual in their minds without necessarily accepting them as true (because sometimes they will be true; sometimes they won’t).

It’s only a start, but a good one. I feel already over-extended most of the time. The world needs so much to heal it, and I am one already worn out person who gives most of what is in me to the little ones in my care as it is. I will never regret having given it to them through this season of my life. I know many of you can relate to feeling that way, whether you have children or not. But if we “ordinary folk” make a practice of small, unconditional acts of kindness and love toward all those we encounter — things that we are all capable of because of God within us — things that God has modeled for us by extending those very things to us and to all — who knows where it could lead? Whether or not anything we would consider great will be asked of us, these small things are contagious. It is not overly idealistic to say that true healing of the world is possible and could indeed happen not in violence and fiery battles, but instead in peace. It will come through God ultimately, but as we answer the call to participate in his plan for humanity by expressing love for our fellow man and all of creation, we become an integral part of the solution.

Because of God in us, we — all people — are ordinary, but powerful folk.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

1 comment so far

  1. John on

    Thanks Jeannine

    Rene’ Girard speaks of mimic, how we all do this and is ingrained in us! Imagine a concert in a hall where all are sitting on the ground. One person stands up and starts to dance, he is kind of sneered at until a second person does the same thing and then another and another and so on, and before you know it the ones sitting down are in the minority.
    I can see this in my religious background where I followed others and thought I was in the only true church. I can see this in other people and groups whether violent or non-violent.
    The key is to stand up and live loved in peace and non-violence one by one even if this makes me the victim. Jesus did and was crucified by humanity! However the Father raised Him and all of us in Him to new life! Believe!

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