Saturday, September 6, 2008

What do we do with conflict in the church?

Do we ignore it, hoping it will go away?  Do we overreact?  Instead, it seems that Jesus invites us to keep short accounts with one another.  In fact, he compels us to meet conflict head on.

About this dynamic of life, Jude Siciliano says, 

"Jesus isn't calling us to be wimps, to lie dow and let the world run over us in its pursuit of pleasure and ease.  He wants us to be an assertive, believing community, ever challenging by our values and ways of living what the world takes for granted and calls "blessings."  We are, according to the beatitudes, people who practice unlimited forgiveness, peacemaking and patient loving, in the ways Jesus taught us by his living and dying."
It is too bad that many Christians use Matthew 18:15-20 as the necessary steps to go through before one has an excuse to exclude someone from the community – rather than positively as a way of resolving conflict.  It makes me wonder how many of our judicial cases in the Presbyterian Church could be solved before major expense if we followed these words with the grace they were intended.

1 comment:

locke said...

Let me begin with this; I don’t want to convert anyone or change anyone’s mind. I have no need to do that. All I want to do is present some information, as I understand it.
Anytime you use the word “Christian” or quote from the bible you have set up a dichotomy of Us and Them. This is true of any man made construct. We have read and understood the bible and They have not. AS long as there are “We” there will always be “They.” It is the nature of the universe and the system all of us are a part of. Yin and Yang.
Even the creation is Yin and Yang. God created God and not-God. Energy, time, space, people, water, land are all part of the dichotomy. We are all Yang. So are “They.”
Chen Tze the philosopher asks, “If I am walking through the jungle and see a tiger I will be afraid because the tiger might attack me. But would my feet suddenly attack me? Is this likely? No. My feet are a part of me, and so I don’t fear them. When I realize that the tiger is also a part of me, I don’t fear the tiger. We are all part of the same thing.”
But, I asked my teacher, suppose the tiger doesn’t know it is part of me? Suppose it’s a stupid tiger?
Then you will be afraid of it, and it will attack you and eat you, he said with a laugh.
It took me a long time to realize why he laughed. I had taken a tiger, which was part of me, and made it something else. My fear had created “them” again.
The hardest realization for me was when I got cancer. If we are all Yang, and tigers are all Yang, then cancer must also be Yang. It must be a part of me, even while it seems to be trying to kill me. It must be trying to kill me because I fear it, and therefore make it the other. When I stopped fearing it was killing me it stopped trying to kill me. I may still die. I will certainly die sometime. But I may even die of cancer, but it is not trying to kill me anymore.