I don’t think I’ll ever forget my conversation with an MP in early February. We were talking about the trucks parked outside his Ottawa office space. In a moment that surprised both of us, the emotional burden of the situation overtook him. With a tear-stained face, he said, ‘How we got here is less important than where we go from here. I have no idea how we’re going to heal our land.’
I’ve pondered that moment for a long time, prayerfully considering what part I (and by extension, Leading Influence) and the Canadian Church must play in the healing of our nation. I don’t know that I’ve arrived at a conclusion for the challenges we face, but I’m starting to see something important that I believe can be helpful to a proactive healing process in our country. Because we’re just a few days away from Canada Day, I thought this might be a good time to share some of what is stirring in my heart and mind.
We Need Peacemakers
Our country is in a challenging place. It’s never been easier to be deemed ‘offensive’ or take offence than now. Emotions are hotter, and tempers are shorter than usual. It’s as though we’re all chewing on tin foil.
When our children are small, peacemaking is relatively easy. We bring them together, have them look at each other and apologize and then we send them off with a ‘play nice.’ In a worst-case scenario, maybe someone had to take a time out. Peacemaking with adults is a bit more complex. You can’t send adults to their room, as tempting as it might be!
Peacemaking happens when we put relationships ahead of being right. While they aren’t always easy, relationships are a gift that can last a lifetime if we manage them well. Being right is subjective and passing. When done well, relationships can last for a lifetime!
No one is looking for a ‘fixer,’ a troubleshooter or a healer. They are looking for some rest from the storm. Become the ‘safe person’ who puts people first, and ‘being right’ somewhere down the list makes you a peacemaker. To quote Jesus, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.
Embrace Our Role
On my last trip to Ottawa, I had lunch with the Ambassador of a small European country. Ambassadors play a unique role in the world. They are warm and winsome representatives of their government. As you might expect, he spoke of his country in warm and glowing terms. He answered my questions politely and graciously. As part of our conversation, he told me how much he and his country appreciated the goodwill of Canadians and our government. He didn’t discuss our differences or point out our failures and flaws. As much as possible, he worked towards establishing common ground. I left feeling like I’d made a friend, and I think that’s what he intended.
Paul describes Christians as Christ’s ambassadors. Admittedly, the context is different from what he was describing, but the principles are the same. One part of participating in our nation’s healing is embracing our role as ambassadors. Ambassadors invest in relationships. Many would say the church has disqualified itself as an instrument of healing to the country. They are not entirely wrong, but the despicable actions of the relative few inform their position. Hundreds of thousands of faithful Canadian followers of Jesus are graciously and generously serving, supporting, and loving their neighbours and communities with acts of kindness and compassion every day. They are investing in people and relationships. Their ‘ambassadorship’ is a healing balm to the many and part of our road forward.
Manage the Salt/Light Balance
Our thinking on salt and light within the culture is usually ‘if some is good, more is better.’ That strategy fails when you see/hear someone on social media who is tone-deaf to the current cultural realities. Every ‘tone-deaf’ interaction reinforces the negative narrative about Christians and Christianity.
Healers understand that less is always more. A few carefully chosen words, small, consistent acts of kindness, and ongoing interactions that model gentleness and generosity will produce tremendous healing fruit in the lives of people around us.
I am genuinely hopeful about the future of our nation. I believe that as we do our part as peacemakers, ambassadors, and low-dose distributors of salt and light, Canada will find its way forward to a better and brighter future!
God Keep Our Land!