I hate conflict.
To me, conflict means pain, and pain or hurt isn't good.
Or is it?
*When we are exercising, it's painful, but has a great payoff.
*When we burn our hand on a fire, it's painful, but the resulting lesson, to keep our hands out of the fire, it very good.
*When we find ourselves growing the most in our faith, our walk with God, it usually is after, or even during a painful, hard time.
Haven't we brought that cultural perspective right into our churches?
The church, the body of Christ, is supposed to model Christ's life to the world. Jesus sure didn't run away from pain and conflict.
He cleansed the temple using a whip to drive out the money changers... if that wasn't conflict....
Instead of walking away from pain, Jesus walked right onto the path of reconciliation opened to Him by His father. All the way to the bitter, painful ending on the cross.
That pain was good.... Horrible for Jesus, but ended up for good in that it made it possible for Him to have intimate relationships with His creation. Good for us that His pain opened up a pathway to redemption that we were invited to.
So, how in the world to we model the redemption and reconciliation we ourselves have discovered?
Do we do it by avoiding and running away from conflict? Letting our churches get torn apart over sexual immorality, abuse, worship styles, refusing to hold one another accountable...
In reality, do we avoid conflict because we don't care enough about our brother or sister to actually cross the lines of culture, go against the grain, and outside of our comfort zones?
It was Jesus' love for us that caused him to walk into conflict, into pain, away from His glory to become one of us. It was His love for us that propelled Him to become one of us and experience the conflict that we have. It was His love for us that then that gave Him the courage and passion to reach out to us through His death to resolve the ultimate conflict between us and God.
So, watching people we love walk away from church because "it isn't our problem" is loving them how, exactly???
Watching people we claim to love fight and argue, fall into sin, etc, isn't love at all. It's self preservation. It's protecting ourselves. It's keeping our own love and security. It has nothing to do with the real love that Jesus displayed.
Real love for one another is love that knows no boundaries.
No holds barred.
No room for anything but compassion and care for our brothers and sisters, and the desire to see them live in peace and community and fellowship.
Real love for one another is the love that moves us beyond the culturally accepted norms, and into really living "in" the lives of one another.
I may be passive.
I may hate conflict.
I hate the thought of not really loving my brothers and sisters in Christ even more.
Today, I choose to go OUT. Love my "one anothers" better. Live in their lives.
Today, I choose to move IN when I see a conflict, not shut down or run away.
Today, I choose to really LOVE, working through conflict to show true redemption and reconciliation.