I’m writing this article to you, students, on my way home from Israel. It’s Monday morning April 27, nine o’clock Jerusalem time. Most of you are awake right now in the final hour of your weekend, Sunday night at eleven. I’m about to layover in Istanbul before my final leg to LAX.
I’ve thought about you often on this trip, as 66 of us traveled together for 10 days in Israel. What I have been thinking about is the hope I have in you and the hope you embody for the world, as a generation of reconcilers.
Yesterday I stood on the Temple Mount, the most religiously contested acreage in the world. Muslims, Jews and Christians of all stripes argue that this is their sacred ground. Symbolized in these 15 football fields of stone plazas and mosques is the tension embodied among many religious groups who have, more often than not, fought or divided. I reflected on the charade of peace that covers the underlying tensions. I reflected on that Temple Mount that God—who will one day make all things new—would use this rising generation of Jesus followers to be his peacemakers, those he called “blessed” in his sermon on the Galilean mountainside.
We are called to be voices of reconciliation and of peace. Of all the traits I pray you will exemplify as you go through Biola and graduate from here—many of you in a few weeks—my most passionate prayer is that you would live out the redemptive love of Christ wherever you go. That you would be reconcilers who live the love of Christ. That you would be called peacemakers.
That love of Christ is easy to show to the coffee barista when she gets our latte right. It comes naturally to our family so long as there’s harmony. But living the love of Christ is much harder for those we might have previously ignored, avoided, judged or condemned. It is a tougher road when we live in tension with our families or in our residential communities. But Jesus calls us to demonstrate the power of reconciliation to all who come our way, regardless. Neighbor or stranger. Roommate or mother. Colleague or foe.
More profoundly, the life of radical reconciliation calls us to the risk of encountering people with disease, those living outside of grace and even those who would threaten to harm or kill us. What does living this way look like when we extend Christ’s love to our enemies or the outcast, the bullied or the disabled, the unsavory or the unlovely? What does it look like to love the persecutors of Christians and not just the persecuted?
Jesus calls us to the way of reconciliation—selfless, humble, vulnerable, open and faithful. He has called us to live this way, even if our attempts at reconciliation are rejected.
I thought about this on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount my last Sunday in Israel, praying for you students on my way home today that you would lean into reconciliation. That you would take the risks of loving radically the way Christ has called you to love, even if that love is snubbed. Blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus said, for they will be called the children of God.