“When the Israelites heard this, the entire Israelite community assembled at Shiloh to go to war against them.” – Joshua 22:12
As two and one half tribes of Israel returned to the land they had been allotted on the eastern side of the Jordan River, they built an altar to remind them of the need to remain faithful to YHWH. Unfortunately, the other nine and one half tribes assumed that their countrymen intended to offer sacrifices upon said altar inviting God’s anger and raining destruction down upon them. In retaliation for this perceived blasphemy, the western tribes then amassed an army to “correct” the situation. No one bothered to ask or inquire what the true purpose of the altar might be. They just assumed the worst and acted accordingly. Wiser heads eventually prevailed, but not until people stopped to listen.
Friends have often parted, marriages have often ended, churches have often split, and even wars have often been ignited, simply because people assumed the worst, judged motives, and abandoned any attempt at civil discourse. No doubt, some differences may be irreconcilable (in particular, those that require one of the parties to be annihilated), but those who claim to follow Christ should always have a desire to listen, dialogue, and seek God’s peace.
This ministry of reconciliation that we have been given not only reconciles us and others to God, it can also reconcile us and others to one another … if we are willing to stop and listen.
Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. – Paul (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)