Monday, April 30, 2007

Blessed are the Peacemakers, For They Shall Be Called... Liberal Hippies?

"You're a liberal hippie that endorses the anti-christ"--yelled at me by some random college student enraged by the very sight of my shirt with the logo seen below.

I've received several comments about this logo, implying that it's blasphemous, anti-christian, and endorses a one world order. So, I just wanted to set the record straight concerning this logo: what it really means and why coexistence is something Christians shouldn't fear, but should actively work towards.

Let's start with the definition of the word "Coexist"

"To exist together, at the same time, or in the same place.
To live in peace with another or others despite differences"
(Webster Dictionary).

Here's what COEXIST does NOT mean: to merge beliefs and ideas, to compromise or sacrifice one's own beliefs to achieve peace, to abandon dialogue about accountability, challenges, hypocrisies, persuasion, or conversion, and it definitely does NOT mean for all people to embrace a unified belief system to establish a ONE WORLD ORDER. In fact, coexist means the opposite of a one world order, because a one world order would contain no diversity at all. People would all live under the same form of government, religion, and culture. There would be no diversity or differences to coexist with! Coexistence implies existing amongst inherent differences that firmly remain.

Usually the word "coexist" is a far cry from the harmonious unification of all mankind singing Peace on Earth while sharing a Coca-Cola. For example, if a spouse describes their marriage as "coexisting with each other," that implies that they are not intimately intertwined or unified. It means their just not at war with each other at the moment. However, the current relationship between certain countries, religions, and political affiliations are so dire, that coexistence would be a step up.

The idea behind this logo is one that most Christians already know and do. The acknowledgement of God's gift of life to all human beings and the right to preserve that life until God deems otherwise is endorsing coexistence. Conceding that people possessing different religions, political beliefs, and social orders have the right to exist on the same planet until God deems otherwise is coexistence. Functioning in the same society with nonbelievers is practicing coexistence. To renounce coexistence would be to endorse the oppression, coercion, and execution of anyone who refuses to convert to Christianity (which is a horrifying "Hitleresque" notion). So, it is not such a radical notion for a Christian. Romans 12:18 commands us to live in peace with all men when it is possible. What does that mean? Just people that believe, think, and look like us? No, it means what it says, ALL men. That includes Muslims, Hindus, Jews, atheists, gays, etc. etc.

It's apparent that many Christians get freaked out when they hear people talking about living in peace because they assume that living in peace will automatically result in a one world order. That is only true if rejecting God and sacrificing our individual freedom to BE DIFFERENT from each other is the condition of peace. Allowing differences and living in peace DESPITE the differences actually prolongs a one world order. Once the world gets so irreversibly out of control with wars, violence, and atrocities because of conflicting religious and political beliefs, that will be when a leader will rise to power to stamp out all such differences in the name of restoring peace.

Forget even END TIMES stuff for the moment. Coexistence is the foreground for effective communication, which can lead to conversion. Isolation from and mud-slinging against those who differ from us Christians only widens the gap of true communication and the accurate depiction of the gospel. People's hearts will only be has hard as the stones we throw at them. Showing people the same respect that we want: to hold and practice our beliefs freely is coexistence and a vital part of demonstrating our faith. Coexisting works in conjunction with loving our neighbor as ourselves and doing unto others as we would have them do to us. It's striving to live in peace with all men as Paul instructs.

So, next time you see me with my "controversial" shirt, know that I wear it because I believed Jesus when he said, "Blessed are the peacemakers," no matter what they end up being called.


keithandjennifer said...

Yea Tia, but the ultimate goal is for ALL to come to know the Lord and keep their cultural difference while living for the Lord. We are not to be hateful to other cults and religions but I am not 'at peace' until all come to the Lord and His saving grace. When you where that shirt that is not what comes across and most of the time you do not have the time to go into a long dialog with people over what it means to you. You have to give 'Christians' a break too and not be so hard on them either.

Tia Lynn said...

I'm with you Jennifer. My ultimate priority is seeing people come to the Lord, that's why I believe coexistence is vital. Why do you think people living under Islamic Theocracies are some of the hardest to reach? Because Christians aren't allowed to openly coexist among them. A neutral environment where honest communication between two conflicting viewpoints can take place can further the spread of the gospel. I wear that shirt because it's something I believe in. If people assign meaning to anything they don't really know about, that is beyond my control. But I always make myself available to converse about it. My post wasn't meant to be hard on Christians, it was meant to encourage Christians to pursue living in peace with all men (as oppose to being at peace with someone's rejection of Christ, as you pointed out)to more completely love our neighbor.

from Christy Fritz said...

i remember being in london and in the midst of islamic and christian students literally yelling at the top of their lungs at eachother. none of it was nice, and most of it was one totally opposing the other. i had come upon this crowd with a student from oxford that i had known at tfc... he started to get into the arguement and i started to get a little angry. finally i just said to the islamic man telling me that i had 5 bibles and they all were wrong, "sir, what is your name" he asked me why i wanted to know that, and i told him that i just wanted to talk. i also told him that i had lived in indonesia as a child, and had studied a bit about islam and would like to be reminded what the 5 pillars were. he told me his name and also a bit about what he thought without yelling.. i defended a few points of my own in our pleasant conversation and as we left said i would pray for him and i did for a while.. i wish i could still remember his name. that was a life changing moment for me. i knew people disagreed and had differing views, but hundreds of them yelling in the street at eachother. i guess i am just eternally optomistic, that there has to be a better way. i want to coexist too and remember to be respectful.. i also want to know my word and know how to tell the good news to all. i think that has so much more to do with loving our neighbor than i want to admit at times. i know it has been heavy on my heart lately, but i really like my bubble. i don't think all christians are in one though, and God has specific callings for us all. it is nice to read your perspective.
i certainly can't wait till heavan where we will all coexist with our true creator in his glory ...
i love the bono blurb too.. amazing stuff

Wild Flower said...

I'm always surprised how the word "peace" has become synonymous with end times, anti-christ. I don't know how people want evangelism to work if they don't want to coexist with people-do they want to return to the tactics of the crusades? "Believe or meet the sword"? Where did you get a shirt that has the coexist design, I would like to get one myself.

Tia Lynn said...

You can find one online. Just google it. I can't remember the name of the site I ordered it off of. Thanks for reading! :)

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Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed that post, I must admit I have seen that symbol before and wondered about it, not really thinking bad or good just wondering about its implications and meaning to look into it, just never seemed to remember when I had time lol. I appreciate your sharing this, I have not heard any negatives myself, but now that I know I probably will (you know how it goes) I have an alternative spirit about me and it makes it hard in the Christian world, not to mention the church world but would not change the way I am for the world.