Thursday, January 24, 2008

On not coping with conflict

Working on my peace-making sermon, I am struck by how radical peace-making is. It truly counters basic human behavior, which is often exposed at its aggressive worst by conflict. Hostility brings out the bad in us, viscerally perpetuating conflict.

Of the many lessons parents should give their children, dealing positively with conflict seems regularly omitted. Parents who run away, model evasion; others who are combative, model aggression. I recall parking a rental car outside a store and returning to find an enormous SUV had reversed, from the parking space opposite, right over its hood. Police were called, and the owners were summonsed by the store's loud speaker system. A wealthy attractive mother with her teenage daughter strode straight across, and went straight for my jugular. First the daughter, and then the mother: "How stupid I was to drive under their car!" Their rottweiler ferocity took my breath away. I tried sweet reasonableness (yes, I really did) but the hostility was palpable. Like mother, like daughter. And the police officer said there was nothing he could do!

When church conflict arises, often dangerously sudden, believers tend to react in character too. Some defensive, others aggressive and all shades of reaction in between. No matter how much we have heard about "telling the truth in love" and "love overcoming evil" and how the fruit of the Spirit includes "gentleness and self-control," all that is quickly jettisoned as we take offence.

Peace-making is God's courageous alternative. It requires learning fresh ways from Jesus Christ. This Sunday, at Calvary Memorial, I pray that some of us will heed God's challenge and commit to his counter-cultural peace-making.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I think back to last Sunday and Dr. Rydelnick suggesting that peacemaking also requires sacrifice. That rings true with me. I know that I often want to wade into a conflictual situation to demand my rights but I think as a Christian I have to be willing to sacrifice that espectation in order to let the peacemaking occur.