August 10, 2013

The Rev. Patricia M. Grace: Agents of reconciliation

DALTON — Wag more. Bark less. You’ve seen this slogan on bumper stickers and posters, and it’s been shared, liked and commented on countless times on Facebook. It’s actually a marketing tag line for a company that sells dog food, dog clothing and other canine-related products. But it’s also a good way to live your life.

Jesus said the same thing but in somewhat different words: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-28, 31, 36)

Most of us find the first slogan cute and amusing. Most of us find Jesus’ words inspiring, but not to be taken too seriously. The way of our world is increasingly based in conflict.  Neighbors do not sort out the occasional broken window, irritating party noise or other recurring misunderstandings of common life with a sit down and cup of coffee in the living room, as many of our forebears would have done. Nope. First, we tell all our other neighbors all about the problem. Then there may be hateful phone calls or emails, followed by threatening letters, perhaps, and ultimately, visits from the local men in blue or briefcase-toting attorneys. Strangers do not do any better … and more and more, we are acting like alienated strangers with each other.

Jesus suggests that Christians try to act differently than the mainstream culture of the time. Love your enemies, he tells us, and do not vilify them over the back fence or on the Internet or in the court of public opinion. Do good to those who hate you, he says. Road rage and other acts of revenge are not the way of those who would follow him. Pray for those who abuse you.

Say what? Yeah, that’s the really difficult directive to follow. But it’s one that will bear good fruit rather than a basket full of rotten apples.

In my life I’ve found it’s hard to keep a good hate-on going, hard to wish ill of someone, hard to keep antagonism alive and well toward someone, if I occasionally visit with Jesus about them in prayer.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Wag more and bark less. Because beyond just refraining from retribution, vitriol and vengeance, Jesus asks us to do something more. He asks us to be agents of reconciliation as he was. He urges us to be proactive about seeking pathways of peace and understanding. He showed us the way in his own life, as he brought, again and again, people from the margins of life into the circle of a caring community, as he forgave his own murderers from the cross … and as he has turned his own cheek, again and again, to us — forgiving us, all of us, who are all sinners in his sight.

Wag more. Bark less. Be merciful as God, our Father, is merciful.

Try living by that slogan for a while — share it, like it, comment on it in all aspects of your daily life. Your reward will be great, Jesus promises — in this world, and the next.

Text Only
  • Le Miz 3 mlh.jpg Do you hear the people sing?

    Sometimes referred to as “the world’s most popular musical,” “Les Miserables,” an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1846 novel, has been performed around the globe in more than a dozen languages for nearly 30 years.

    July 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Bryan Collins: God so loved

    In John 3:16, Jesus spoke of the Father’s love of the world, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    July 11, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: Those who help also serve Christ

    If the reader wrongly believes Christ can’t use you because you’re too timid to sing, pray, speak publicly, play musical instruments in worship services inside a church sanctuary, today’s devotional will greatly encourage you.

    July 4, 2014

  • New pastor for First Presbyterian

    The Rev. William McMullen “Will” Scott, currently of Indianapolis, Ind., has been called to serve as the pastor of Dalton’s First Presbyterian Church. Scott is only the 19th senior minister to be called by the congregation in the church’s 167-year history. His nomination was approved by the congregation Sunday, June 15, following a yearlong search.

    June 16, 2014

  • Bryan Collins: Men, step up

    On Sunday, our nation will celebrate Father’s Day. The observable differences in the way Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are celebrated could be attributed to several different factors.  Mother’s Day is typically a more sentimental occasion than Father’s Day because our moms are usually a little more sentimental. Moms are typically more nurturing and so we think of them differently than we think of our dads. It is too often the case that moms have to play the role of mother and father to the children.

    June 13, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: The powerlessness in aloneness

    God knows the fragileness of every human he has created. The first time God graded something as “no good” within his new creations is when he created the first human, Adam: “It is not good for any man to abide alone” (Genesis 2:18). God then created Eve.

    June 6, 2014

  • DLT play features bluegrass gospel music, comedy

    It is October of 1945, the war is over, and the gospel-singing Sanders family is back together again.

    June 1, 2014

  • O.N. Jonas Memorial Foundation plans for future

    The yearly meeting of the O.N. Jonas Memorial Foundation was recently held and plans for the future were discussed. The foundation (administered by the Creative Arts Guild) began in 1968 with friends of the late Oscar N. Jonas uniting with business, civic and educational leaders to establish an organization that could perpetuate Oscar’s aspirations for the cultural enrichment of all children in northwest Georgia. The foundation sponsors visual, performing and literary arts in Dalton Public Schools, Whitfield County Schools and Murray County Schools, and also Crossroads, Mountainbrook and the Dalton Regional Youth Detention Center. All programs are free to students.

    June 1, 2014

  • Robin Richmond Mason: Sit down for a season but stand firmly on your roots

    Proverbs tells us that a woman can live in such a way that her children will rise up and call her blessed.

    May 10, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: Christ-like power from devilish thorns

    Today’s devotional is to the readers who have asked God many times to rid Satan out of their life, but as of yet he hasn’t  removed him. The Apostle Paul also experienced such heartbreaking misery.

    May 2, 2014