From Competitive to Contemplative

Friday, July 11

7-11By Michalina Bartlett of Gainesville, Florida, USA

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

—2 Corinthians 5:18–19 NRSV

After bounding from its crouch, the cat streaks into the chase with its gaze intent on the terrified mouse. The teeth of the mouse have a viselike clamp on the cheese. Nothing is more intimidating than the focus of a predator, and nothing more fear-driven than the escape of the hunted. And, between the two, nothing more narrow in vision than this interplay of pursuit and escape.

Myself, I want out of this mad race and into the peaceful contemplation of the Divine. Pondering the image of cat and mouse, I can see how much time I waste in competitive living. In the end, it succeeds in nothing but a selfish result. By being the winner, and perhaps being right—or the loser, and perhaps being wrong—both lose. Both are egoistic and shortsighted.

Why involve ourselves in this struggle at all? Hindered by the blinders a shortsighted goal creates for us, we can’t see anything beyond what is before our faces: the need to control, be right, and win.

I would rather know I am reconciled to God and divine truth. This is a more expansive and creative way to live. I would choose to live without the blinders that ego pursuit and pride create. What would happen then? The more I consider the alternative, the more I see myself choosing Christ’s peace. There are no losers in the pursuit of what matters most. There are only winners in Christ’s mission of evangelism, compassionate ministries, and justice and peacemaking.

Prayer for Peace Reconciling God, we would be with you, not settling into competition with others. Help us form peaceful teams where winning is common—given to each other. Help us develop the ministry of reconciliation.

Spiritual Practice: Healing and Reconciliation Gather a small mound of stones. Meditate on the stones as symbols of differences and destructive acts that continue to separate and wound the human family. Name and anoint each “stone wound” with a drop of water or scented oil. Offer them to God in a prayer for healing and reconciliation.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will play with friends and not keep score.

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