How the Gospel Compels a Peaceable Spirit
On a recent flight from East Asia back to the US, I passed some of the twelve-hour trip time watching The 15:17 to Paris.
The film remains largely true to the events of August 21, 2015 when three childhood friends from Sacramento thwarted a terrorist attack aboard a French passenger train.
Director Clint Eastwood employed the heroes themselves to portray the main characters in the film. Central to the story is Spencer Stone. Eastwood tracks his life leading up to his extraordinary intervention along with his buddies.
Stone attended Christian school as a youth, somewhere along the line picking up St. Francis of Assisi’s famous prayer Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace. At one point the film shows Stone kneeling beside his bed praying the prayer.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
After prescribing appropriate behavior towards governing officials in 3:1, Paul then piles up a series of descriptors in v. 2 best characterized by a spirit of perfect courtesy.
The word for “peaceable” is the Greek word “amacho.” Look familiar? We get our English word “macho” from it. “Amacho” means “not macho.” Humility, courtesy, gentleness, meekness–the opposite of machismo–should characterize the believer’s social discourse.
I had opportunity to apply this truth while making a connecting flight in San Francisco. Following the marathon trans-Pacific crossing, Jan and I waited several hours before boarding the next leg of our trip back to Boise.
When it came time for zone one to board, the Delta attendant skipped us, inviting zone two to enter the jetway. Trying to hide my irritation I protested with my preacher voice: “What happened to zone one?!”
She paused and immediately apologized for the mistake, even thanking me for pointing out the error.
As I approached the podium, I sensed her disappointment with herself. It showed on her countenance. Time to put Titus 3:2 into play.
“Not bad for your first mistake of 2018,” I offered with as big a smile my tired self could muster.
You should have seen her face brighten. “I’ll go with that!” she beamed.
Then Jan suggested we offer to check our carryon bags to ease the full-flight burden and aid her job performance. She thanked us profusely.
Heroic action in the face of terrorist extremism? No, just a small opportunity to manifest the gospel as an instrument of peace.
Perhaps we can all take a page from Spencer Stone’s playbook and pray regularly, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”