Peace. Joy. Love. Twinkle stars and green grinch hearts that grow. ‘Tis the season of spreading good wishes and warm fuzzies. But let’s get real for a second. Crowded parking lots, tired bodies, loneliness and pain often marr our Hallmark movie visions of what this season is supposed to look like. Tensions ride high and our often idealistic gatherings end in hurt feelings and anger. We are human — it happens.
Last week, I discovered that December 12th has been set aside by the United Nations as “International Day of Neutrality”. Which got me thinking about this whole idea of peace. Is it easier to just be “neutral” in order to keep the peace? To let things go? To simply sweep tensions under the rug rather than cause a scene? Maybe you’ve faced this delima at your last holiday gathering? A co-worker with whom you’ve had a disagreement? Or in-laws that have become out-laws? The holidays seem to bring out the best — and the worst — in some people. Let’s think about it a little more…
According to the Oxford dictionary, “neutrality” means:
- the state of not supporting or helping either side in a conflict, disagreement, etc.; “impartiality.”
- absence of decided views, expression, or strong feeling.”the clinical neutrality of the description”
- the condition of being chemically or electrically neutral.
The UN extended this definition even further to: “the abstention of a state from all participation in a war between other states” while still maintaining “an attitude of impartiality toward the belligerents”. Try that at your next party. Belligerents indeed.
All of this sounds wonderful. No one wants war. World peace is a noble goal. But wait. Doesn’t the Bible talk about a time for peace and a time for war? It’s confusing isn’t it? And as much as I appreciate activists waging war on political leaders, and as much as I don’t want bomb threats and lock downs becoming realities at my children’s schools, I must narrow down this idea in my own little world. How do I, as a Jesus follower, take a stand for what is Biblically correct, and still be respected in my community?
I found some insightful views via Kaitlin Garrison and her post on The Barefoot Blog. She has outlined it much better than I can, so I encourage you to read it there. She explains that there is a significant difference between being peacekeepers and peacemakers. Peacekeepers would make the UN proud by avoiding all conflict and simply staying neutral. No opinions must be voiced, no thoughts shared. Peacemakers, on the other hand, are lovingly honest. They lay Biblical truths on the table and discuss the conflict at hand with hopes of resolution and true peace. Jesus was not one to back down from a fight. Yet, His birth is surrounded with this idea of peace. There’s gotta be some correlation.
I’m afraid I may not be making my views crystal clear on this one… and maybe it’s because I am struggling with the practicalities of this myself. I tend to avoid the conflict by keeping my mouth shut. Introverts peacekeep well this way. But maybe it’s time to open up a bit. To peace make instead of peace keep. Perhaps this season, we can be bold together… to be more honest with ourselves and others. To make our feelings known, yet still love our neighbours. It is no easy task. But I’ve got your back. And I wish you a season of true peace this Christmas!