How Christians Fight
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Christians fight. We do. Christians are people and people fight. What can hopefully set Christians apart is what happens after the fight.
Christians seek reconciliation. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that as we have been reconciled to God, God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are to announce that people have been reconciled to God and we are to embody the ministry of reconciliation by being reconciled to one another.
One area that Rice and Katongole spend a considerable amount of time is in the discipline of lament. All over the pages of Scripture we see God’s people engaging in lament. There’s an entire book in the Bible called Lamentations. So many of the Psalms ask where God is and why God has not acted. In the lives of real people throughout pages of Scripture we hear voices crying out for God or for Jesus to be present to suffering and to act.
Sometimes it can feel like to lament is to lack faith. Sometimes it can feel like to lament is to lack hope. When it comes to our relationship with people, when it comes to our most broken and hurt relationships, sometimes it can feel like to lament their brokenness is to resist reconciliation. Rice and Katongole make the opposite points: to lament is to have faith, to lament is to have hope, lament is a necessary step in reconciliation.
When we lament, when we confess the brokenness in our lives, we imagine a world where that brokenness wouldn’t exist. We imagine a world where that relationship is healed. If we couldn’t imagine anything different, anything better, then we couldn’t and wouldn’t lament! Instead lament says that things can get better and that we need God’s help to get there.
Katongole and Rice say, “To be deeply bothered about the way things are is itself a sign of hope. To the extent we are not shattered, we do not hope. There is in lament a desperation—even more, a demand—for something deeper, something beyond, something new. Those who are not easily consoled have entered a place of restlessness. They’ve opened their hands to accept a different vision. They are now ready to receive a better hope.”
And that better hope comes from God. That better hope comes from believing that God is big enough and powerful enough and God’s grace is sufficient such that God could make these insurmountable hurts healed and whole. There are relationships in my life that are deeply broken. I’m sure there are some for you as well. I don’t know where to begin to fix the really broken ones in my life. Some days I’m not sure I want to fix them. Hurts that are still real are still raw. But I believe in a God that could one day restore and reconcile those relationships. I believe in a God that’s big enough to heal my deepest hurts. I believe in a grace that’s powerful enough to bring about reconciliation in the most broken parts (and relationships) in my life.
So Rice and Kantonle conclude, “To learn to lament is to become people who stay near the wounds of the world, singing over them and washing them, allowing the unsettling cry of pain to be heard.” When we give voice to our pain we can let God speak words of grace to it. When we confess our brokenness we let God speak words of mercy to it. When we lament we let God give us hope.
Christians fight. And Christians seek reconciliation. But sometimes the hurt is so big, the wound so raw, the pain so real that the reconciliation we seek can only be brought about by God. Lament reminds us that our God is able. Even when we can’t see it, even when we don’t want it. Our God is able.