Following the Supreme Court's ruling on school desegregation, Clarence Jordan got into serious trouble with racists and members of the Ku Klux Klan when he tried to assist two African-American students in their application to a formerly segregated business college. This led to shooting, bombings, and vandalism against the Koinonia Farm. But Jordan steadfastly refused to leave. He spoke of these adversaries as people "with their personalities twisted and warped by prejudice and hate . . . If there is any balm in Gilead; if there is any healing in God's wings; if there is any hope — shall we go off and leave people without hope? We have too many enemies to leave them. The redemptive love of God must somehow break through. If it costs us our lives, if we must be hung on the cross to redeem our brothers and sisters in the flesh, so let it be. It will be well worth it. To move away would be to deny the redemptive process of God."
What's your initial response to pain and suffering?
It's not what you just read, is it?
When people hurt us, when trials and suffering comes, we tend to turn away - to cut people off.
And yet Jordan's words track with what I've learned over the years - "Hurt people... hurt people."
Was eating lunch with a good friend yesterday who has known me for many years now. He brought up an incident many years ago at New Hope where an acerbic member came to the church one burning hot Saturday afternoon and found me cutting the grass. She then proceeded to tell me I was doing it wrong.
I can laugh at it now, but at the time it was just another sniper's bullet in the war that was raging between me and a group who opposed changes I believed God would have us make as a church to reach more people who were far from God. That was a tough period of time. Some very hurtful actions and words were thrown at me and even my wife.
I confess I didn't practice what Clarence Jordan did. I moved away and minimized my contact with her and those engaged in the war. Forgiveness is something I have learned to give people who hurt me, but opportunities to hurt again?
Not so much.
A work in progress,I am.
What about you? Are you able to stand in the place of pain and be God's person of peace?
Pray with me for grace sufficient to be who Jesus wants us to be.