Thursday, January 21, 2010

This week's lesson: peace

When it comes to church, there are few things that cause more trouble than our desire for peace.

We don't like trouble, after all. And we hate it when people argue with each other. No, that's not something that Christians are supposed to do!

So when somebody comes up with something that might upset the status quo, we hesitate. We wait to see who might object. We strive for consensus -- and lacking that, we give way to anyone who is willing to make a fuss.

The result is a church in which change is difficult, risk is shunned, and whatever conflict takes place is covert. Secret. Behind the scenes . . .

Until people decide that "enough is enough" -- and when that happens, then the gloves come off. A "holy war" is declared. And an issue that might have been settled with 25 minutes of heated discussion turns into our own, local version of Armageddon.

Not that this ever happens at my church, of course!

But I've found it helpful to remember that peace not the same as an absence of conflict. No, it is living life the way God wants it to be lived -- and sometimes, that means we need to work through some of the things that keep this from happening.

Just because we're not fighting, in other words, doesn't mean we're at peace.

And just because we are fighting, that doesn't mean we don't love each other.

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