It Needs to Start Right Where You Live and Work

My youngest son, Luke, is a police officer with the Bloomington Police Department. Since he was five-years old, Luke has wanted to be a cop, and he has never waned nor wavered. Laura and I thought for sure he would grow out of it, but . . . here he is.


What an interesting time to be a cop.


Every time Luke shares stories of his ventures with domestic calls and “welfare checks” (checking on people’s welfare, not on whether they received their government check), I shake my head in disbelief at the brokenness of society. And then I ask myself, How is it possible to create positive change in the dysfunction, pain, and hate in our culture?


Well, we might not be able to change everything, but we can change some things. I can’t help a broken family down in Bloomington or on the other side of the world in Thailand, but I can help a broken family next door (and work on my family issues as well).


The band Waterdeep has a song that says, “You talk of hating war. But where’s your own peacetime?” As Trish Warren says, “I can get caught up in the big ideas of justice and truth and neglect the small opportunities around me to extend kindness, forgiveness, and grace” (Liturgy of the Ordinary, 77). 


This is not an either/or dichotomy but a both/and opportunity.


In C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, senior demon Screwtape coaches his apprentice on how to infect someone’s relationship with others:


Keep his mind off the most elementary of duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate the most useful of human characteristics, the horror and neglect of the obvious. . .  I have had patients of my own so well in hand that they could be turned at a moment’s notice from impassioned prayer for a wife’s or son’s `soul’ to beating or insulting the real wife or son without a qualm (Screwtape Letters, 13).


At times I find myself proclaiming a radical love for the world while I neglect showing a radical love for those closest to me. I need to be reminded to seek God’s peace (shalom) and mission in the world beginning right where I am—in my home, neighborhood, and church, with real people, not just “right causes.”


When we separate the big idea of shalom from the ordinary warp and woof of life, we create a false division between private or public, justice or family values, pro-woman or pro-life, police or the people. Shalom begins on the smallest scale, in the daily grind, in homes, churches, and neighborhoods (Liturgy of the Ordinary, 80). Warren reminds us, “Daily habits of peace or habits of discord spill into our city, creating cultures of peace or cultures of discord” (idem.).


If I want to help the police and those who are oppressed by poverty, family dysfunction, addictions, and mental health problems, I need to get off my Twitter feed, Facebook scrolling, Instagram checking, and Tic-Toc surfing, and become a sower of peace rather than a contributor to cultural dysfunction. I need to be a doer of the Word right where I live and work and not a hearer only (James 1:22).


“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18).