On or around Christmas of 1914, in the middle of World War 1, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary stoppage of the war so that Christmas could be celebrated by both sides (History.com). There never was an official stoppage of the war, as both sides refused, but there was an unofficial cease-fire and both sides celebrated Christmas right there on the Western Front. Imagine that, right in the middle of a massive war between two different ideologies, two sides finding time to set differences aside to celebrate something they have in common.
A few years ago, I read a novel written for a middle school aged audience titled Playing with the Enemy by Gary W. Moore. It is a biography about a man (the author’s father) who had all the makings for a catcher in the major leagues, who suffered a catastrophic injury that prevented him from living out his dreams. It also prevented him from being able to serve in World War 2 as a soldier. Instead, because of his baseball talent and his ability to be a leader on the field, he was sent overseas to teach German soldiers in a prison camp how to play baseball to orchestrate an exhibition game between the American soldiers and German prisoners on this military base in Europe. In the end, the game was played, and in some cases, friendships were made between the German prisoners and the American soldiers. In the midst of a major war between two different ideologies, people from both sides were able to look past their differences and come together as one.
In this passage in 1 John, we are told that those who love are living in the light, and those who hate are living in darkness. Those who spread love, who put aside their differences with each other are living out God’s intentions for us, and are living out what Jesus preached during his ministry. If we can look past our differences and recognize each other as part of God’s creation, and that even though we may not believe the same ideas, we aren’t living out God’s purpose for us by being divisive, by speaking words of hate and discrimination.
It isn’t the only problem, but at least part of the problem is an unwillingness to listen to and feel empathy for the people on the other side of these issues and just at least make an attempt to understand their side of the story. Wouldn’t it be nice if, with all of the different social and political issues that are so deeply dividing our nation right now, if we could just agree to listen to each other, learn WHY the other side thinks or feels the way they do, and then work out the differences? I know, that may be too utopian. But what I also know is that it would we might find that people with different philosophies on life are still people and really are no different than the rest of us.