January 07, 2010

Nerf Gun War

The great nerf gun war continues to rage just outside my living room window. The combatants in this war include most of those who gathered just a few weeks ago in my dining room to decorate cookies. Plastic guns that shoot nerf darts are the weapon of choice in this war, although a bow that shoots marshmallows instead of arrows is also used. In the most intense battles, one might also see a plastic sword or two.

Most of the battles are generally friendly, but sometimes things don't go right. A gun gets taken. A sword is broken. Complaints ring in my ears, and when they do, I respond with one of several phrases that I have come up with for the occasion, phrases that inevitable fail to satisfy the sense of injustice felt by the troops: "Casualty of war." "Cheap sword." "Game over."

As today's battle rages, I'm inside, reading, thinking, and wondering. Specifically, I'm thinking and wondering about how people have such different views of Jesus. Some see him as a great warrior, all-powerful, conquering evil with his mighty strength. This Jesus would kick ass in a nerf gun war, no doubt about that! Others see Jesus as meek and mild, soft-spoken, gentle--a lamb who would run away in fear.

Last week, I challenged the members of our high school youth group to try to imagine Jesus in a new way, as neither conqueror nor lamb. I also shared with them a series of hypothetical situations, situations in which a typical response would be "fight" or "flight," and asked them how they'd respond. (Nearly every time, they chose "fight.")

"OK," I said. "Now try to imagine a third way to respond, one that involves neither fighting nor running away; a response that is more creative than either of these, more effective, and more Christ-like."

Following Jesus is about finding that third option, choosing that third way, the way that is neither fight nor flight. It's the way outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. Don't fight back, but don't run away, either. Instead, go the extra mile.

Is there someone with whom you are constantly butting heads? Perhaps a co-worker who is controlling and overbearing in the workplace, not to mention obnoxious? How do you respond? Do you let him or her walk all over you? Do you push back, confront, challenge? Do you (in other words) run away, or do you fight?

Or do you look for the third option, a better, more creative solution, one that will lead to greater peace for both of you?

Whether it's nerf gun wars in the neighborhood, conflict in the workplace, or tension among nations, most people see only two options, but it's the third option that will make us all winners. It's the third option that will bring peace.

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