Frequently when I’m working with a group, business, or church mired in dispute, people say: “You must really enjoy conflict to want to get in the middle of somebody else’s problems. You have a weird concept of a good time!”
I’ve wondered about that myself from time-to-time. And out of those wonderings has emerged a stock answer. "I become involved because I am amazed at what God can do. I have a front row seat to see His power unfold."
It’s a pretty good answer. My preference would be to avoid anything that remotely resembles a disagreement. Yet, I must admit that there is a certain lift I get from watching people embroiled in conflict discover the higher path. I am totally amazed at the way that honest expressions of feelings and underlying interests unlock within us a God-given ability to see our own faults and to seek and give forgiveness.
Perhaps my lowest point is when I find myself face-to-face with individuals who refuse to seek the higher path — or even to take a single step on it once they know it’s there.
As I sat down to write today, I took a short detour into the Internet and stumbled across a web site seemingly designed for the sole purpose of maliciously attacking others. No, it wasn’t a hate site for a militant political group in the Middle East. Nor was it the home page of a racially biased enclave of radicals.
It was a site devoted to an "honest discussion of WHAT REALLY HAPPENED at [a certain church]."
Naively, I bought in to the banner at the top of the page. I heard that there were problems at [a certain church] and I was sincerely interested in learning more. I soon discovered that the site was not devoted to honest discussion. It was merely a bulletin board for spilling bile.
I was only able to read a few pages. I was hoping and praying that I would find a voice of reason somewhere. Just when I was about to give up, I found it ... I thought.
Some poor, unsuspecting soul wandered into the discussion and basically asked, "What’s going on here?" When a short, not entirely coherent description of the situation at [a certain church] appeared, the new participant, Newton, asked, "What’s wrong with that?"
The attacks came from all sides. Computer-literate jackals pounced. "Obviously, you are one of these sons-of-the-devil if you can’t SEE what’s wrong with that!"
Newton, surprised, stumbled to recover. Despite his efforts to employ kind words that would turn away wrath, the cuts from the others came. Just a few more posts, and then Newton left the site, badly hurt and obviously disillusioned.
Since my job is conflict resolution, you’d think that I would grow accustomed to seeing such things.
But nothing can normalize such savagery.
Anyone who delights so much in his or her position on a given topic that they enjoy drawing the blood of others, has lost sight of the Kingdom of God. We must lovingly teach others. We must carefully correct. We must pray and seek after those who have wandered from the truth.
But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit. Live in such a way that God’s love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you. Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren’t contaminated by their sins.
And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. All glory to him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen. (Jude 20-25 NLT)