Wednesday, February 24
Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Thurman. (Photo source unknown. Found on Google Images. He believed that personal spiritual renewal was important to the liberation process and that inward liberation was a prerequisite for social transformation. In his seminal 1949 book, Jesus and the Disinherited, Thurman provided an interpretation of the New Testament gospels that laid the foundation for a nonviolent civil rights movement.
These just may be the most challenging, and convicting words, Paul ever wrote. In Bring the War Home: the White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, historian Kathleen Belew writes: “In 1977, Louis Beam used a Texas Veterans Land Board grant—a program designed to provide economic benefits to returning veterans—to purchase fifty acres of swampland. On a landscape that recalled the rice paddies of Vietnam, Beam built Camp Puller, a Vietnam War–style training facility designed to turn Klansmen into soldiers.”
Clearly an overwhelming majority of Vietnam veterans did not return radicalized into the white power movement. Many returned to serve as pastors in our denomination as well as other Christian denominations, or to public service and the betterment of our nation. Still war’s role in the formation of the white power ideology present at the insurrection in our capital last month is undeniable. For the first time in history an entire generation of Americans grew up during wartime. These wars do not appear on the front page of newspapers or on the evening news. These wars challenge us as church leaders to ask during this Lent, “have we forgotten that our country is at war”? How do we answer our God if we are asked, “have you, so far as it depends on you, lived peaceably with all?”
Action step: today, with brutal honesty ask this question prayerfully of the Holy Spirit, “have I, so far as it depends on me, lived peaceably with all?” Do not be afraid of the answer but let God show you how to do so personally, corporately, and as a people.
“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace.” Teach me how to order my days that with sure touch I may say the right word at the right time and in the right way — lest I betray the spirit of peace. Let me not be deceived by my own insecurity and weakness which would make me hurt another as I try desperately to help myself. Keep watch with me, O my Father, over the days of my life, that with abiding enthusiasm I may be in such possession of myself that each day I may offer to Thee the full, unhampered use of me in all my parts as “an instrument of Thy Peace.” Amen.
Howard Thurman, The Inward Journey: Meditations on the Spiritual Quest (Harper Row, 1961, p.104), cited on Renovare website, https://renovare.org/articles/make-me-an-instrument-of-thy-peace