Conflict of the Current Age
Can you imagine how the world might change if the difference between us was no longer the source of deep division? What if race, ethnicity and other distinctions became sources of learning and understanding rather than sources of conflict? Given the current state of the world, I understand that this sounds impossible to many. We have seen some of these conflicts for so many generations that we can’t imagine a world where they don’t exist. We have seen too much water go under the bridge. What if we were given an alternative? What if we could grasp a different vision for the human community? There is a vision that has been cast for us. Throughout his ministry Jesus consistently laid out a vision of a more inclusive community. Jesus’ vision has the capacity to transcend all the ways we would divide ourselves.
The Obstacles to True Community
We are the biggest obstacle to accomplishing the inclusive community envisioned by Jesus. In spite of our best motives, we can succumb to fear and suspicion when we encounter people we don’t understand. Our history is full of instances when fear and suspicion led to division and conflict instead of honest learning. We bear the legacy of this division as if it is an open wound. Often, our culture sees the other as a threat to our position and well-being and seeks to mitigate, if not eradicate, the threat. The wars we have fought and the conflicts we have endured find their roots in divisions we create with people who are different then ourselves.
Imagining the Inclusive Community
When we read the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard we see the vision of the inclusive community. Many of us our challenged by this parable. We are offended by an image that we interpret to condone economic injustice. We think we hear Jesus say that shirkers in our world will exploit God’s beneficent grace and slide into heaven at the 11th hour. In fact, what Jesus is teaching doesn’t come from a place of scarcity or competition. Jesus casts a vision of the human community that is bathed in the super abundance of God’s providential care. God’s reign among us is rooted in God’s concern that all of us are cared for and included as brothers and sisters of one another. By allowing scarcity and competition to enter into these relationships we stand in the way of what God is doing.
Embrace the Vision
As disciples of the risen Christ, each of us is called to more fully live into God’s vision for the human community. Likewise each of us is called to make choices that will enable us to engage more deeply across our differences. How will your view of the world be transformed so that differences will not devolve into division? How will you open your heart and understanding to embrace a neighbor who is different?