About nelsonkraybill

J. Nelson Kraybill is a Mennonite pastor in Elkhart, Indiana. He was director of the London Mennonite Centre in England (1991-1996) and president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (1997-2009) in Indiana. With a doctorate in NT from Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Virginia, he is author of several books, including APOCALYPSE AND ALLEGIANCE: WORSHIP, POLITICS AND DEVOTION IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION (Brazos, 2010). He is President of Mennonite World Conference, and leads tours to Bible lands.

A tyrant loses moral authority

WallsofJerusalemCR-s

Several steps of the palace of Herod the Great peak through the lawn immediately to the right of the lad jumping off the low wall. Herod’s palace, which rivaled the Temple itself, filled the entire area from these steps to the distant slender tower.

On the west side of Old Jerusalem, outside the city wall, lads from a Yeshiva school visit with their teacher and play. They gather among scant ruins of what probably was the western entrance to Herod the Great’s palace at the time Jesus was born.

Matthew reports that wise men from the East, presumably Gentiles, came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we have come to pay him homage.” When Herod heard this, “he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:3).

Tyrants fear competition, and people of Judea had reason to fear what an erratic ruler such as Herod would do next. The king summoned chief priests and scribes, who cited Micah 5 to confirm that scripture called for a messianic ruler to come from the nearby village: “O Bethlehem . . . one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel.” He will “feed his flock in the strength of the Lord” and “shall be the one of peace” (Micah 5:1-5).

But peace was not on Herod’s mind when he heard about the birth of a new king. Lying to cover his murderous design, Herod fed deceit into the communication network. He told the wise men to “go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

Instead of joining in worship, Herod sent troops to slaughter all baby boys of Bethlehem in hopes of killing Jesus. Joseph and Mary with the newborn Christ already had fled to Egypt.

Herod was not the nurturing shepherd that Micah portrayed as the ideal ruler! But when angels came to fields near Bethlehem to announce news of Jesus’ birth, they came to real shepherds. The angels brought a healing message in contrast to Herod’s cruelty: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace” (Luke 2).

Shepherds in ancient Palestine were not the despised, untrustworthy persons some interpreters make them out to be. But they held a humble place in the social order, matching the lowly status of Jesus’ servant-girl mother. Shepherds came to the stable to worship the ruler who Micah said would feed his flock. The wise men, probably well-to-do astrologers, came from a distant culture to offer gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

There is no indication that shepherds and wise men visited at the same time. But, taken as a whole, the Gospels depict all of humanity bowing to the Christ child: rich and poor, marginal and elite, Jew and Gentile, domestic and foreign.

Herod seethed in his palace, a luxurious structure one thousand feet long that featured multiple baths, banquet halls, and gardens. The king had real estate and weapons, but also so many enemies that he had to build safe houses at various places in his realm where he could retreat if his people rebelled.

Tyrants eventually lose moral authority. Revolts that erupted in Galilee and Jerusalem before and immediately after Herod died failed. But his kingdom fragmented over the next generation, and the Herod dynasty was gone. Two millennia later, the kingdom that began with the child in a stable at Bethlehem counts citizens on every continent, wherever people call Jesus Lord and accept the angel’s message, “glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.”

© 2017  J. Nelson Kraybill ******************************************IMG_0410 (4)

I invite you to enter your email address in the designated box at the edge of this webpage (if you have not already subscribed), and click Follow. You’ll get a notice every three or four weeks when I put up a new blog post. I will not spam you.

Come with Ellen and me on a Peace Pilgrim walking tour in Galilee and Jerusalem! Dates are May 14-25, 2018, and the pace will be moderate. We will walk parts of the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum, and hike at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus took his disciples on retreat in the foothills of Mt Hermon. At Jerusalem we will walk the city walls, trace the triumphal entry route on foot, and travel by vehicle to see more. Note that this tour cannot be a large group, and we are near capacity for registration. Contact TourMagination promptly if you wish to join!   See https://www.tourmagination.com/tour/holy-land-peace-pilgrim-walk-jesus/

Will a wall protect us?

Expecting imminent attack by the merciless army of Assyria in 701 BC, King Hezekiah of Jerusalem prepared for siege. He built a 1700-foot tunnel to supply the city with water. He set about “repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it.” He added “another wall” outside that one and reinforced supporting terraces (“the Millo”) of the City of David. He also “made weapons and shields in abundance” (2 Chronicles 32).

BroadWallcrs

Only a few feet of Hezekiah’s defensive wall rise above ground level today, but the 23-foot width is there. The vertical blue and white strip on a building to the left shows the estimated original height of the wall.

That second wall mentioned in Chronicles is what archaeologists believe they found while restoring Jerusalem after the 1967 war. Although today only lower portions remain, it once was a massive structure twenty-three feet wide and probably twenty-six feet high. A two hundred-foot length is visible among modern buildings today.

After Hezekiah fortified Jerusalem, he assembled people of the city and said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.”

Those faith-filled words did not convince everyone. Isaiah later asserted that people of Jerusalem built a reservoir in anticipation of siege, but “did not look to the One who made [the city], or have regard for the One who planned it long ago” (Isaiah 22:11). They trusted more in military defenses than in God.

King Sennacherib of Assyria indeed besieged Jerusalem, and gloated that he “shut Hezekiah up like a caged bird” in the royal city. But the siege failed, and Jerusalem was spared (2 Kings 19). Was that protection from the wall or from the Lord? Perhaps both.

But Isaiah was certain God governed history, and that filled him with hope even when political or military horizons were bleak. With expansive vision, the prophet said someday “all the nations shall stream” to Jerusalem, and peoples of the world will “beat their swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2).

Isaiah could not have fathomed leaders of a distant nation 2700 years later hankering to build a massive wall to keep out impoverished or endangered foreigners who want to work in factories, start businesses, go to college, cook in restaurants, and otherwise contribute to society.

Perhaps Isaiah would quote from his prophetic scroll: “What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” (3:15). “Is this not the fast that I choose . . . to share your bread with the hungry, and to bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them . . .?” (58:6, 7)

© 2017  J. Nelson Kraybill ******************************************IMG_0410 (4)

I invite you to enter your email address in the designated box at the edge of this webpage (if you have not already subscribed), and click Follow. You’ll get a notice every three or four weeks when I put up a new blog post. I will not spam you!

Come with Ellen and me on a Peace Pilgrim walking tour in Galilee and Jerusalem! Dates are May 14-25, 2018, and the pace will be moderate. We will walk parts of the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum, and hike at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus took his disciples on retreat in the foothills of Mt Hermon. At Jerusalem we will walk the city walls, trace the triumphal entry route on foot, and travel by vehicle to see more. We will do all this with scripture in hand and prayer in our hearts. Interested? See https://www.tourmagination.com/tour/holy-land-peace-pilgrim-walk-jesus/

When rulers taunt and threaten

Hezekiah'sPool-blogcc

“Hezekiah’s Pool,” the dry courtyard at bottom left, might be the Upper Pool mentioned in 2 Kings 18:17. At distant right is the golden Dome of the Rock where the Temple stood. The large grey dome at near left is Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

From the roof of my hotel on the west side of Old Jerusalem, I look down into “Hezekiah’s Pool,” an ancient reservoir that still echoes taunts an enemy made there almost three thousand years ago. At that time Assyria, after wiping out the Northern Kingdom of Israel and deporting its citizens (2 Kings 17), threatened Jerusalem. The Assyrians were brutal: ancient reliefs show them beheading prisoners of war or skinning them alive.

So Jerusalem had reason to be terrified when King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 701 BC, conquering all major cities except Jerusalem. But Isaiah warned God’s people not to seek superior weapons or make compromising alliances: “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 31).

King Hezekiah of Jerusalem tried to appease the Assyrians, even sending to King Sennacherib gold and silver stripped from the Temple. But Assyria still dispatched envoys to Jerusalem who spouted propaganda by the “Upper Pool.” If today’s empty pool by my hotel existed in Hezekiah’s time, it was just outside Jerusalem. Inhabitants of Jerusalem stood on the city wall nearby to hear the Assyrians (2 Kings 18, Isaiah 36).

While archeologists dispute which ancient site actually is the Upper Pool, the message of the Assyrians is not in doubt: Egypt is a “a broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of anyone who leans on it,” the Assyrians sneered. You people are so ignorant of horses that Assyria will give you two thousand if you can provide soldiers able to ride them! Yahweh himself told us to come destroy you!

Leaders of Jerusalem were humiliated, and asked the Assyrians to please speak in Aramaic, the language of diplomacy, rather than in the Hebrew everyone could understand. No, answered the Assyrians, we want to communicate with common folk who, like you, soon will be eating their own dung and drinking their own urine.

King Hezekiah prayed, “O Lord, deliver us . . . so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone are God.” Speaking on behalf of Yahweh, Isaiah told Assyria, “I will put my hook in your nose” and “turn you back on the way by which you came” (2 Kings 19).

Sure enough, one night during the siege an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrians, perhaps by plague.  The Assyrian army returned home, Jerusalem was spared, and King Sennacherib was assassinated by his own sons.

I cannot rejoice at such loss of life. But the story of taunts at the Upper Pool, and the account of unexpected reversal in warfare, remind me that God is sovereign in history. Nations may rage and rulers taunt, but people of faith need not be immobilized by fear. We will not always be saved from harm, but a just God controls our destiny.

From my rooftop I look into what may be the Upper Pool. I also see both Dome of the Rock where the Temple surely stood and Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus died and rose. Fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of beating swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2), Jesus calls followers to lay down weapons and love our enemies even in crisis when it could cost us our lives.

© 2017  J. Nelson Kraybill ******************************************IMG_0410 (4)

Come with Ellen and me on a Peace Pilgrim walking tour in Galilee and Jerusalem! Dates are May 14-25, 2018, and the pace will be moderate. We will walk parts of the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum, and hike at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus took his disciples on retreat in the foothills of Mt Hermon. At Jerusalem we will walk the city walls, trace the triumphal entry route on foot, and also travel by vehicle to see much more. The Gospels will be in our hands, and prayer in our hearts. Interested? See https://www.tourmagination.com/tour/holy-land-peace-pilgrim-walk-jesus/

 

Giving the knee to Jesus as Lord

 

Marcellus-JNKcr

On this first-century tomb at Colchester, England, a Roman soldier carries the rod that means he was a centurion. His weapons hang from two belts of the kind that Marcellus removed and threw to the ground to disarm.

American football players protesting racism recently gave the knee instead of standing at attention during a performance of the United States national anthem, triggering a Twitter storm from the president of the country and a cloudburst of editorial commentary. The wave of  athletic protest began when a player named Colin Kaepernick, wanting to call attention to black men dying at the hands of police, knelt in public at pre-game ceremonies.

Kaepernick is a confessing Christian with Bible verses (not ones I would choose) tattooed on his body. A few years ago, he spoke of his commitment to Scripture. Just as each football team “has a thick playbook full of very specific responsibilities,” he said, the “same is true of our ‘playbook’ the Bible.” Kaepernick was raised on stories of Daniel in the lion’s den and Jesus standing before Pilate. He was accustomed to praying as he entered the football stadium, and has made large contributions to international charitable causes. But symbolic protest made him the object of scorn.

The witness of Marcellus

Kaepernick’s costly witness reminds me of Roman centurion Marcellus, who became a Christian while in the Roman army. On July 21, AD 298, Marcellus stood in front of troops he commanded in Morocco, threw down his weapons, and declared, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ, the eternal king. From now I cease to serve your emperors and I despise the worship of your gods of wood and stone, for they are deaf and dumb images.”

The emperor in AD 298 was Diocletian, who shortly would unleash devastating persecution of the church. With his empire restive, Diocletian promoted patriotism by requiring all soldiers to sacrifice to the Roman gods and to honor the emperor on his “divine” birthday as a manifestation of the god Jove.

Marcellus resisted, and faced court martial on October 30, AD 298. The judge asked, “What madness possessed you to throw down the symbols of your military oath and say the things you did? . . . You threw down your weapons?”

“Yes, I did,” the soldier replied. “For it is not fitting that a Christian, who fights for Christ his Lord, should fight for the armies of this world.” Marcellus was beheaded immediately after trial.

A martyr’s grave in Indiana

The medieval church in Europe often placed martyr bones under the altar when they established a cathedral. When University of Notre Dame in Indiana founded a new basilica in 1870, they followed that tradition and acquired the bones of Marcellus, which now rest under the high altar. I pray in the basilica each October to thank God for this saint’s witness.

Kaepernick will not lose his head. But at least for the time being, this gifted athlete appears unemployable. Though their circumstances and motivations are different, I honor the actions of both Marcellus and Kaepernick. Marcellus refused to worship “deaf and dumb images” of gods and emperors. Kaepernick protested politicians and civic leaders being deaf and dumb to racism. May I have the courage like these followers of Jesus to make public, nonviolent witness against idolatry and injustice.

© 2017  J. Nelson Kraybill ******************************************IMG_0410 (4)

Come with Ellen and me on a Peace Pilgrim walking tour in Galilee and Jerusalem! Dates are May 14-25, 2018, and the pace will be moderate. We will walk parts of the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum, and hike at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus took his disciples on retreat in the foothills of Mt Hermon. At Jerusalem we will walk the city walls, trace the triumphal entry route on foot, and see much more. The Gospels will be in our hands, and prayer in our hearts. Interested? See https://www.tourmagination.com/tour/holy-land-peace-pilgrim-walk-jesus/

Confronting a narcissistic ruler

Machaerus mountain--JNKcr

The Machaerus palace complex covered the entire flat top of this mountain in Jordan. In the distance is the Dead Sea, and on a clear day Jerusalem is visible at the upper right.

The moral character of a ruler can reach such low ebb that prophets arise to name and condemn the scoundrel’s behavior, even if the ruler strikes back. In totalitarian states, immoral rulers imprison or murder adversaries. In democracies, they discredit and counter-accuse.

John the Baptist saw and condemned the immorality of Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, and paid for it with his life. Having been educated in Rome, this Herod was a son of Herod the Great. He schmoozed Rome and named his new regional capital in Galilee “Tiberias” after the reigning emperor. Like his father, Herod Antipas wielded power to stroke his ego and eliminate foes. Jesus called him “that fox” (Luke 13:32), and Herod eventually helped preside at Jesus’ trial.

But even as he rubbed out opponents, Herod perversely wanted to meet them. When the Tetrarch finally encountered Jesus in a Jerusalem courtroom, Herod was “very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign” (Luke 23:8).

Called Tetrarch because he inherited one-fourth of his father’s kingdom, Herod controlled two separate regions: Galilee in the north, and Perea–an area east and north of the Dead Sea. When John the Baptist began to speak out against corruption, economic injustice, and spiritual leaders in cahoots with Rome, he took his ministry to desert regions of Perea and the Jordan River valley.

Always paranoid about the possibility of insurrection, the Herod family maintained scattered palace-fortresses as safe houses. One such was Machaerus, which crowned a dramatic peak in mountains east of the Dead Sea. Not far to the north, John was proclaiming, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance . . . Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees . . .”

When Herod seduced and married his brother’s wife, John publicly rebuked him (Mark 6:17-29). The marriage was both adulterous and incestuous because the woman was Herod’s niece. Herod’s new wife wanted John dead, but fearing public relations pushback, Herod simply threw him in prison.

Machaerus courtyard--JNKCR

Archeologists have reconstructed the central courtyard of the Herodian palace at Machaerus–perhaps the place where Salome danced.  Also reconstucted is one pillar that was part of the porch around the courtyard, and an adjacent small section of the original courtyard stones.

An opportunity for revenge came when the narcissistic ruler celebrated his own birthday with a party which, according to Josephus, was at Machaerus. He invited officers of his court and leaders from Galilee. Salome, daughter of Herod’s new wife, performed such a beguiling dance that Herod promised to give whatever she asked. Consulting with her mother, the girl said, “The head of John the Baptist!” With the pesky prophet apparently in a dungeon at Machaerus, Herod ordered immediate execution, and the head arrived on a platter.

Today it is an easy hike up Machaerus mountain, and the ruins are sobering: a courtyard that may be where Salome danced, an adjacent hall where Herod likely feasted, and various underground rooms that could have been dungeons.

The Romans eventually tired of Herod’s erratic and power-grabbing governance, and he did not come to a happy end. In AD 39, a few years after killing John and Jesus, he was stripped of power and sent into exile in France, where he died.

I admire the moral fiber of John, who stood up to corrupt and narcissistic power. I honor the courage of John’s disciples who came to collect his body. I support peaceful protesters, pastors, and prophets who confront corrupt and narcissistic power today in this country and around the world.

© 2017  J. Nelson Kraybill ******************************************IMG_0410 (4)

Come with Ellen and me on a Peace Pilgrim walking tour in Galilee and Jerusalem! Dates are May 14-25, 2018, and the pace will be moderate. We will walk parts of the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum, and hike at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus took his disciples on retreat in the foothills of Mt Hermon. At Jerusalem we will walk the city walls, trace the triumphal entry route on foot, and more. The Gospels will be in our hands, and prayer in our hearts. Interested? See https://www.tourmagination.com/tour/holy-land-peace-pilgrim-walk-jesus/

A bit of heaven in my pocket

 

RevStonesCRweb

The twelve stones of Revelation, clockwise around the outer edge, starting with the green stone in my hand: chrysoprase (tanzanite), jacinth, carnelian, sapphire, agate, onyx, topaz, emerald, beryl; in the middle, clockwise starting with the purple: amethyst, chrysolite, jasper.

“That’s tanzanite!” said Bishop Amos Muhagachi of Tanzania when he saw one the stones on my windowsill. Indeed, the glistening green gem came from Tanzania, but I know it as chrysoprase. It completed my collection of twelve stones named by first-century prophet John on Patmos island (Revelation 22:19, 20).

John ministered among early churches in what today is western Turkey. It appears he got into trouble with Roman authorities, was exiled to Patmos, and there wrote a blistering blast against empire. The Roman empire, he charges, is a rampaging beast whose power issues from Satan. Mounted on the beast is the harlot “Babylon,” a derisive label that protesting Jews and Christians gave to Rome. She is “drunk with the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.”

Condemning Roman emperor worship as blasphemous, John foresees divine judgment against the greed and violence of Rome. Rome destroyed earthly Jerusalem in AD 70, but now something better is coming. Beyond the gloom of his vision, John sees the light of a new Jerusalem.

If the beast represents Roman rule, new Jerusalem represents alternative citizenship that early Christians claimed in the kingdom of God. Babylon (Rome) “fornicates” with kings of the earth. It corrupts complicit client rulers such as the Herod dynasty, and extracts resources of all kinds from the provinces. The new Jerusalem, in contrast, produces a river of the water of life that nurtures trees for healing the nations. Apostles of the Lamb form the foundation of the city. This is heaven coming to earth, a city where God dwells with mortals to wipe every tear.

In contrast to empires, which always expand the chasm between rich and poor, the new Jerusalem brings equal access to wealth. The very streets on which inhabitants walk are gold. Foundations of the city are replete with jewels–the same that adorn my windowsill.  This is an image of the church in mission, sharing wealth and seeking economic access for all.

In Old City Jerusalem, a shopkeeper supplies me with six stones named in Revelation: jasper, sapphire, onyx, carnelian, topaz, and amethyst. Paying a few dollars per stone, I walk away with a bit of heaven in my pocket, then round up the remaining gems on Ebay: jacinth from Cambodia, agate from Botswana, emerald from Brazil, chrysoprase (tanzanite) from Tanzania, beryl from Angola, and chrysolite from Pakistan.

Many people in the world would not have spare cash to visit Jerusalem or even to purchase such stones. The disparity of resources reminds me of the growing gap between rich and poor. Oxfam calculates that just eight men in the world have more wealth than half of humanity. Eight! Bishop Amos and his colleagues have a plan to grow the Mennonite church in Tanzania from 100,000 to one million. That is spiritual wealth.

I yearn for the day when the new Jerusalem is fully here, when material poverty is no more. John saw that the holy city already is breaking into the world–now! I consider what my part should be in the economy of that holy city: give generously to agencies that foster economic opportunity, support candidates who think globally, care for the environment, build relationships across boundaries of nation and class, live simply.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

© 2017  J. Nelson Kraybill ****************************************IMG_0425

The popular-level book I wrote on Revelation is now available in Spanish! See https://www.amazon.com/Apocalipsis-lealtad-pol%C3%ADtica-devoci%C3%B3n-Spanish/dp/1532991134/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500927801&sr=1-1&keywords=apocalipsis+y+lealtad  The English language version is Apocalypse and Allegiance: Worship, Politics and Devotion in the Book of Revelation (Brazos, 2010). Walter Brueggemann calls it “fresh, vigorous, imaginative, demanding.”

Come with my wife Ellen and me on a Peace Pilgrim walk in Galilee and Jerusalem—an active tour accessible even to non-athletes like myself. Dates are May 14-25, 2018. We will walk parts of the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum. Details are still pending but we likely also will hike at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus took the disciples on retreat in the foothills of Mt Hermon. At Jerusalem we will walk the city walls, trace the triumphal entry route, and more. Interested? See https://www.tourmagination.com/tour/holy-land-peace-pilgrim-walk-jesus/

Letting the other guy win

 

Jordan Valley--CRJNK(2)

This view eastward across the Jordan valley, north of the Dead Sea, shows land that Lot chose as grazing territory for his flocks.

With wars festering in many countries, and continuing conflict over land in the West Bank, I pray that political leaders might have the reconciling spirit of Abraham.

Shortly after returning to Canaan from Egypt, Abraham found himself in conflict with his nephew Lot over access to grazing (Genesis 13). Abraham was rich, and as patriarch could have demanded that his herds get the best. Instead, he chose generosity.

“Let there be no strife between your herders and my herders,” Abraham told Lot, “for we are kindred. Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”

Hearing such a gracious offer, one might expect Lot to defer to his uncle. But Lot looked eastward and saw that the “plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt” (where the Nile River creates a long, lush ribbon of agricultural land).

Genesis says Lot “chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan.” Abraham settled in Canaan, the drier highlands, while his nephew went to the far side of the valley and set up camp near Sodom.

Today travelers along eastern edges of highlands in the West Bank can look down across green vegetation in the Jordan valley below. On the far side of the valley, just before the mountains, there is an unexcavated tel (archeological mound) that may contain ruins of ancient Sodom. There Lot settled after helping himself to what appeared to be the best land when Abraham the peacemaker made that possible.

Modern social theory identifies five negotiation styles in conflict: 1) compete (I win/you lose), 2) accommodate (you win/I lose), 3) avoid (I lose/you lose), 4) compromise (I win some/lose some, you win some/lose some), and 5) collaborate (I win/you win). In this conflict with Lot, Abraham accommodated.

A University of Notre Dame website says “Giving in or accommodating the other party requires a lot of cooperation and little courage. . . This style might be viewed as letting the other party have his way. While this style can lead to making peace and moving forward, it can also lead to the accommodator feeling resentment.”

Yes, that is a hazard. But after Lot and Abraham parted, Abraham rescued his nephew when he was abducted (Gen. 14), and later pleaded (unsuccessfully) with God to spare the city of Sodom, where Lot lived (Gen. 18). There is no hint of resentment in these actions of Abraham, but neither is there evidence that the accommodating and rescuing he did issued in a close bond between him and Lot.

But by taking generous initiative for a peaceful solution with Lot, Abraham was not burdened with bitterness. I admire his willingness to share with Lot and even accept loss to keep peace. Sometimes accommodation, or going the second mile (Matt. 5:41), is the best strategy in conflict. Abraham had faith in God’s call, and confidence that God would be good on the promise to bless him and his descendants with land and abundance.

© 2017  J. Nelson Kraybill ****************************************IMG_0425

Come with my wife Ellen and me on a Peace Pilgrim walk in Galilee and Jerusalem—an active tour accessible even to non-athletes like myself. Dates are May 14-25, 2018. We will walk parts of the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum. Details are still pending but we likely also will hike at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus took the disciples on retreat in the foothills of Mt Hermon. At Jerusalem we will walk the city walls, trace the triumphal entry route, and more. Interested? See https://www.tourmagination.com/tour/holy-land-peace-pilgrim-walk-jesus/