Friday, January 25, 2008

Healthy Conflict

I confess some tension as I work on peace-making. No doubt, we desperately need peace-makers who, with sacrifice (I agree with Steve's comment on my last blog) and discipline, bring healing to destructive conflict. Negative conflict is highly dangerous.

However, conflict can also be positive and healthy. What? Indeed, gospel transformation, learning to live new life together in Christ, means (much) conflict with old ways, and the world's ways. Gospel promises inevitably create tension.

That's why, in my last book, I urged biblical preachers to stir up tension.

While conflict can be destructive when people lose sight of common vision, it possesses life-giving possiblities when through healthy tension new understandngs emerge...we empathize with the bewildered pastor who said, "All my life, I've judged my success by how happy everyone in the church was. You are telling me that if I'm really on mission with God, one sign of my success will be the presence of conflict."...... True peace does not paper over difficulties but emerges through conflict in honest new health. (360degree leadership, page 66).

I believe that preaching Scripture "generates and sustains creative tension" because God always wants to transform us into better people together. We haven't yet arrived at spiritual maturity, (say that again), and his challenge to live as mature Christ-followers, generously sharing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), is tough to swallow.

So, to challenge people to be peace-makers (Romans 12:18), a preacher has to stir up tension ("healthy tension") about getting on with something that most of us don't want to do!

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