Colossians 3: 14, extolling love, peace and unity, suggests that the burden of unity rests upon the offended, not the offender. As we have been forgiven, so we forgive. The supreme example is Jesus forgiving his murderers even while they are in the act. We cannot wait for repentance, restitution or retreat in order to enjoy peace. It is up to you and it is up to me to forgive and clothe ourselves with love. Now.
It begins with me. There is no point in giving me steps to peace if I don't believe in peace to begin with. There is no use in explaining to me how to live in unity if I don't value it, think it is impossible, or have a fundamental resistance to its manifestation. Laws might be made and kept to convey unity and feign peace, but these laws only betray my propensity towards hate, division and war.
Rather, it is urgent that I look inward. Why am I not at peace with the other? Why is it I cannot love the other? I might think it is because of anger. But what is at the root of my anger? Perhaps it is hurt. But what is at the root of my hurt? Perhaps it is fear? If I look closely enough, observe these movements in my mind, then I will begin to notice the release of this fear, the hurt, and even the anger.
I recently spoke with a friend who's wife left him. He was bitter, angry and alone. He couldn't forgive her. He was so angry with her. We talked. After a while, he noticed that his anger was rooted in hurt he was deeply hurt, betrayed by the one he loved. We talked some more. He began to notice that at the root of his hurt was fear fear that he would be betrayed, forsaken and finally abandoned. Once he recognized these movements in his mind, he noticed his anger begin to dissipate. After some time he even began to notice his capacity to trust in love again. The peace with his ex-wife began with him. In his own mind. Not by her repentance, restitution or return.
In today's atmosphere of the interweaving of an incredible diversity of cultures, philosophies and religions, it is so easy for misunderstandings to occur. It is so easy to offend and be offended. If we could get past our anger, past our hurt and observe our fear of the other, perhaps we will watch our divisions dissipate. Maybe even a willingness to live in peace with the other will arise. If we will have an attitude of forgiveness (be-fore it is requested or required, give whatever is needed to make peace), then unity will be enjoyed.