The Third Way

When a crisis or conflict comes our insecurity too often causes us to see our response in terms of fight or flight.

Jesus invites us to consider a third way. Rather than the dualism of villain/victim, right/wrong, winner/loser, children of God refuse to dual. Instead, we choose the path of living as a peace-maker.

A child of God is the incarnation of grace, a non-anxious presence, the strong one who uses the fire within to energize their works for justice.

This is very different from the little girl trying to keep mommy and daddy from fighting, or the gentleman trying to make everything alright at dysfunctional family gatherings, or the timid person keeping their head down and begging us all to “just get along.”

When Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, he wasn’t suggesting that we be weak, passive recipients of another person’s rage. Rather, he was suggesting that we refuse to be anyone’s victim … or anyone’s villain.

Jesus was calling us to a third way. Children of God choose to be the strong ones, the healing ones, the peacemakers.

We are rarely either villain or victim; we most often are both. When we choose the third way we no longer see everything through our eyes only. Ultimately, children of God see every situation through God’s eyes, the eyes of grace.

I learned to write at C.B. Greer Elementary School in Brunswick, Georgia. My penmanship today is pretty awful, but I would have grown up to be a doctor if Miss Tillman had not drilled into my head that I needed to relax my death-grip on my pencil. Every day she would say, “That pencil is an instrument to be played, not a snake to be choked.”

That may be a good life lesson, too. Life must be held lightly, with less certainty and fewer absolutes. Final judgments are God’s to sort out.

That is not our job. Our job, as Paul put it, is, “As much as possible, according to what is within you, make peace with every person.” (Romans 12:18)

Right or wrong? Fight or flight? Villain or victim? Good or evil? Life is neat when it is divided that way, but when the way of legal/moral absolutes failed, God sent a baby. In the end, he was executed by the state, but not before he invited us to travel a third path, one that leads us to knowing peace and making peace. After all, he said that is what Children of God make.

May all our lives be very productive forever. Amen.

by Michael Piazza
Co-Executive Director
The Center for Progressive Renewal

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