Seeing as we are.
The current horror between the Israelis and Hamas allows us to see what a religious war looks like when the participants have retreated from any sense of either seeking to understand the other. Each has withdrawn to their corner, each painting themselves to all who will listen as the true victim. Neither is willing to acknowledge that the other has a story that needs to be both told and heard. Neither is willing to recognise, confess and seek forgiveness and restoration for their own culpability.
I cannot accept that zero-sum thinking is the only way that matters of conflict, even on such a massive scale, can be resolved. Having to win, which infers meaning the other needs to lose, can only ‘reverberate through the generations’ - creating an ongoing cycle of victimhood and retribution. Sometimes it appears that only by making the other truly suffer can one expect to feel truly vindicated.
This is not the way of Jesus. This is not the way of the best of either the Old or New Testaments of our treasured scriptures.
Jonah is filled with rage against that barbaric people, the Assyrians. He cannot countenance the possibility of the grace of God being extended toward them. All he wants is for them to suffer - the more, the better.
The last verse of that amazing book is filled with pathos. As God remonstrates with Jonah’s need to see the people of Nineveh annihilated, God gently pushes back with the most unwelcome expression of grace: “Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jon. 4:11).
What Jonah sees as pure premeditated malice and evil on the part of the Assyrians, God sees as lostness and confusion.
Oh, that we might see ‘the other’ through the eyes of God.