Risk-Taking Mission: Peacemaking
PEORIA – In his final Morning Manna devotional, Bishop Gregory Palmer used the reunion story of Jacob and Esau as a backdrop to illustrate the risk of peacemaking.
“All experiences of restoring broken relationships come with a nudging that says, ‘make things right,” Palmer said. “You ought to do something about this or say something about this.”
Palmer said that disagreement and estrangement brings distance, which in the short term, may be self-preserving.
“But over time, the chasm gets wider and deeper,“ Palmer said. “We live in a world that has a really slow learning curve on rebuilding broken relationship and where the enmity rises to the level that it is ‘war’ – whether it is between members of a household or a blood kin family, between tribal groups, between affinity groups that see the world in one way and see it so radically different – all of us have relationships that need tending.”
And whether an individual feels the yearning, there is a yearning in the heart of God.
“Even when the enmity is not up close and in your face … there is this yearning that our lives, our relationships and our world could be more characterized by peace and wholeness and togetherness and reconciliation than they are by alienation and violence and rage,” Palmer said. “Do you hope to live in those kinds of relationships? Do you yearn for that with the heart of God – for the Church and for the world?”
The Jacob story offers one of those unexpected moments of peacemaking.
“I have characterized Jacob as a hustler,” Palmer said. “And a hustler is someone looking out for his own interest regardless of how it affects others. It doesn’t mean that a hustler is not redeemable.”
While acknowledging his flaws, Palmer also noted that Jacob was one “who was in touch with God at least occasionally and one that God has God’s eye on for he became Israel, almost as if God was yearning for something different or better for Jacob and almost as if God was sending him all sorts of signals.”
Jacob realized following his wrestling experience that he has some unfinished business in a broken relationship with Esau.
“Who do we need to be in right relationship with?” Palmer said. “Start with yourself because that is where you have the greatest leverage, but don’t stop there. Because there’s a world out there that extends beyond you.”
Palmer said the standard for forgiveness comes when one is able to say, “I refuse to let what you did to me stand in the way of a right relationship with you.”