Sunday, February 08, 2015

This week's lesson (February 7-13): dealing with fights

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips . . . [but] as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. -- Colossians 3:8, 12-15 (NIV)
I'm always amazed by just how fast a church fight can turn "spiritual."

I mean, one minute you're happily fussing about the exact shade of puce the new church carpet should be . . .

And the next, you're being told that anyone who doesn't like mauve must be one of those Muggletonian heretics condemned by the 1932 Bible Conference (or something like that).

To be sure, I know that some people are just plain cantankerous.

What's more, I know the Church has its share of people who are just plain cantankerous.

That's why I'm not surprised when a discussion about the new church carpet turn into a donnybrook -- no, I expect the occasional church fight.

But fights about privilege and power don't stop being fights about privilege and power when we dress them up in spiritual language . . .

And cantankerous people who use spiritual language are no less cantankerous than the people who don't.

That's why Proverbs reminds us that the mark of a Godly person is not their bad-temper -- and the sign of God's Spirit is not our inability to get along with others.

No, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22f, NIV).

Just because it's a church fight, in other words, doesn't necessarily mean it's "spiritual." Sometimes, as a matter of fact, a fight about a carpet is nothing more than a fight about a carpet.

And that's why, sometimes, you just need to leave God out of it.

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