What is more important – an issue or a person?
What is more important – being right or living rightly?
What has more value?
If we care about an issue, about being right, rather than a person, or a group of people, then we are missing something important. If an issue, idea, a thing, or any other non-living thing is more important than a person or group of people, then our priorities are in the wrong the order.
This doesn’t mean being at someone’s beck and call or just giving in to someone else and their ideas. That’s the same idea, only coming from someone else’s standpoint.
When I talk about this, I’m talking about the Imago Dei – the Image of God. Which is more important – being right, or seeing the Image of God in someone else? That might mean losing a debate to someone who has no intention of seeing another way. Sometimes the most compassionate thing to do is to let the other person win a debate. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It’s recognizing where you are and where the other person is and allowing that to exist, while hoping for something better. But there isn’t much point in trying to ram down your points if the other person won’t consider them. That just leaves everyone unhappy and upset.
Over the last few weeks, our Hebrew Scripture readings have talked about walking in the ways of God. That’s a bit of a tall order. What does it mean to walk in the ways of God?
I think it means a few things. It means to show grace and mercy – to give the other person what they don’t deserve and to keep away what they do deserve. Besides, who are we to really know what someone really deserves. We do this because it is what God has done for us – given us what we don’t deserve and kept away what we do deserve.
It means being forgiving. It means being a peacemaker – not a peace keeper or a conflict avoider. Peacemaking is hard work and is it vulnerable and often dangerous. Peacemaking is risky. Yet, God blesses peacemakers.
It means seeking justice for all. It means serving the poor and outcast. It means seeing the Image of God in others. It means loving our enemies. It means spending time with God in prayer and Scripture.
What others will do is out of our control and really, out of our concern too. We are called to walk in the ways of God, not force others into those ways. Should we invite others to walk with us? Of course. But some will refuse. They will remain stubbornly blind – they will have no desire to see the Imago Dei in the other. Maybe they fear change. Maybe they fear not being in control. Maybe they have been abused in the past and fear that it will happen again. We don’t know. But what we do know is that we are called to go forward, to walk in the ways of God.