Extend the Olive Branch
The olive branch means: extending or offering peace.
In the Book of Genesis in the Bible when the flood was almost over, Noah released a dove to fly over the waters to see if there was land and signify that the flood waters had receded. The dove brought back an olive branch to Noah affirming that there was now land and announcing the flood was over.
The saying “extend the olive branch” refers to peace, reconciliation, truce, putting the past behind and going forward in a new manner. So much easier to say than to do in some instances.
I was privy to watch an escalation between two women in a parking lot yesterday, a younger woman had thought that the other woman (a bit older) had parked too close to her car. The woman who had parked close immediately went to move her vehicle, but the younger was so angry, I watched as she beaked off to the other woman the whole length of the parking lot. When they got to their vehicles, the younger must have said something because the other lady came round her truck and said something back. The younger woman went towards the too close vehicle and hand punched it and damaged it. Then unbelievably managed to get into her car which was still 'too close' by slamming her car door into the other vehicle causing dents and drove off in such a huff that we all were left speechless. I was the first to reach the lady with the damaged vehicle after the incident and was hoping to provide calm in an already accelerated situation, I was hoping we could extend the olive branch if necessary. She was in shock after this incident and told me what the other lady had said to her– it was blatantly rude and totally unnecessary, so she was on the phone to the police. At that moment I realized the olive branch had wilted and was not an option.
It is not my imagination that some people are “pent up and getting angrier” the longer our world is in limbo and they display this proudly for all to see as this younger woman had. Sometimes you wonder if kindness has left the building.
The Bible states that as believers we have 2 goals: one is to maintain our relationship to God: “Love the Lord Your God With All Your Heart, Soul and Mind” and the other is: “to love our neighbors as ourselves.” Matthew 22:37-38
Who is our neighbor? All mankind, including people who park too close, and those who beak off. Soooo hard to do especially with strangers and then toughest, with our family.
Often it becomes an ego matter and a power struggle battle for control to see who will win. Why does it have to be that way?
We are to be ministers of reconciliation, first with God and then to with people.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
We have been given a job to do – reconcile people to God, show them the way and also reconcile ourselves to each other. This is not a suggestion, it is not a request it is a commandment, God committed this task to us: to not do so is blatant disobedience.
So many people would do anything rather than admit we were wrong, show compassion first, or ‘give up our rights’ or heaven forbid, extend the olive branch. I know I struggle with this as well, it grates against me, I do not like it.
How many of us have ghosted people? We do not want to deal with their issues, their problems, they make us feel uncomfortable or we do not know what to say so we “ghost” them and it is now such a widely accepted thing that we have a word for it: “ghosted”.
Are there people we have not talked to in weeks, months, even years? If you are a God believing person, the question becomes, why?
The only time it would make sense that you are not working on extending the olive branch of peace is if by doing so it will bring you great harm, in all other cases we have a job to do: reconciliation.
I am not suggesting that we have to be best friends, that is not what reconciliation means. I learned in DivorceCare that reconciliation means to cause to be friendly. To be able to say “hi” in a civil and polite manner. At the time that was a stretch for me, but it was a great weight off to understand that reconciliation meant really to be kind and polite. I could handle that.
Easy ways to extend the olive branch: bake some cookies, go on a coffee date in a public place so it is neutral ground, use a neutral friend or family member to help mediate, make the phone call, say 'hello'.
“Oh, you do not know what they did to me” – it does not matter. Extend the Olive Branch. Your rights ended at the cross, Jesus sacrificial death for you, supersedes your rights to fair, life has never been about fair. Extend the Olive Branch
“Well I have never been treated so unfairly” – it does not matter. Extend the Olive Branch.
Become the person who initiates reconciliation with God by talking to people, talk to a stranger, or even buy a meal for a someone who needs one, offer to pray for others, share your lives with co-workers.
Become the person who initiates reconciliation within our families, extend the olive branch and just so you know, you might have to do it more than once. Expect that they will shut you down on branch number one…. Remember an olive branch grows on a tree, there are many other branches to try again with.
Become a minister of reconciliation for God and bring peace into a situation that could use a helping hand. Show others that the storm is over and there is good soil to rebuild, peace to be had and love to be shown.
Become a person willing to extend the Olive Branch.